ONF and ON.Lab advance SDN with scalable and customizable Leaf-spine fabric solution

The networking world continues to progress open source software solutions.  The ONOS® Project, a software defined networking (SDN) operating system for service providers, today announced availability of an ONOS-based leaf-spine fabric solution for data centers and service provider Central Offices. This is the first L2/L3 leaf-spine fabric on bare-metal switching hardware that is built with SDN principles and open source software. It is a result of a productive collaboration between the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the adoption of open SDN, and Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), a nonprofit building open source communities to realize the full potential of SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV).

Leaf-spine fabric technology is ideal for any enterprise in which the underlay fabric plays a key role in the infrastructure or service provider network operator interested in utilizing a hardware-based, modern data center fabric that leverages white boxes and open source for easy customization. Service providers and vendors are beginning to field test the fabric as part of the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD™) initiative from ON.Lab.

This generic leaf-spine fabric that can be used, and customized for any of the following architectures:

1) Webscale datacenter

2) Enterprise datacenter

3) Telco datacenter

4) Telco central offices undergoing transformation to data centers

Project CORD:

The last use case reflects CORD (Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacenter), which is a major use case of the fabric and strongly supported by AT&T and other telecom industry titans.

“SDN and NFV are speeding up innovation, as seen in projects like CORD,” said Tom Anschutz, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at AT&T. “These technologies create systems that do not need new standards to function and enable new behaviors in software, which decreases development time. Faster development time leads to rapid innovation, something the industry needs to continue satisfying data-hungry customers.”

CORD combines SDN, NFV and cloud with commodity infrastructure and open building blocks to bring in data center economies of scale and cloud-like agility to service providers. The CORD solution POC spans the Telco Central Office, access including Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON) and G.fast as well as home/enterprise customer premises equipment (CPE).

“Underlay and overlay fabrics represent important ONOS use cases,” said Guru Parulkar, executive director of ON.Lab. “ONOS Project, in partnership with ONF and several active ONOS collaborators, have delivered a highly flexible, economical and scalable solution as software defined data centers gain momentum. This is also a great example of collaboration between ONF and ON.Lab to create open source solutions for the industry.”

Fabric Enables a Truly Integrated SDN-Based Solution
The fabric is built on Edgecore bare-metal hardware from the Open Compute Project (OCP) and switch software, including OCP’s Open Network Linux and Broadcom’s OpenFlow Data Plane Abstraction (OF-DPA) API. It leverages earlier work from ONF’s Atrium and SPRING-OPEN projects that implemented segment-routed networks using SDN.

“This is an L2/L3 SDN fabric with state-of-the-art white box hardware and completely open source switch, controller and application software,” said Saurav Das, principal architect at the Open Networking Foundation. “No traditional networking protocols found in commercial solutions are used inside the fabric, which instead uses an integrated SDN-based solution. In the past, the promise of SDN has fallen short in delivering HA, scale and performance. The fabric control application design, together with ONOS, and the full use of modern merchant silicon ASICs solve all of these problems. In addition, the use of SDN affords a high degree of customizability for rapidly introducing newer features in the fabric. CORD’s usage of the fabric is an excellent example of such customization.”

Besides bridging and routing, new features include:

  • HA and scale support with multi-instance ONOS controller cluster (previous work was with single-controller)
  • Integration with vRouter for interfacing with traditional networks using BGP and/or OSPF
  • Integration with CORD’s vOLT for residential access network support
  • Support for IPv4 Multicast forwarding for residential IPTV streams in CORD
  • Integration with CORD’s XOS-based orchestration framework

“Edgecore open network switches are deployed as the underlay network in leaf-spine topologies for data center and telecom infrastructures,” said Jeff Catlin, vice president technology, Edgecore Networks. “ONOS and the fabric control application design, with ONOS and open network switches, provides a more highly scalable and resilient network fabric. The deployment of OCP switches in open SDN deployments is critical for accelerating the continued development of the open SDN ecosystem.”

The number of service providers, developers and networking professionals experimenting and contributing to the fabric continues to grow. Ciena Blue Planet, a network specialist and ONOS partner, is adding test cases for build and deployment automation. Services providers, enterprises and individual developers interested in getting involved may download, test, contribute new features and initiate lab and production trials to make the fabric solution even stronger. To join the active discussion, send an email to [email protected].

Whether an individual or an organization, all are encouraged to get involved with the growing open source CORD community. Both the ONOS and CORD Projects are hosted by The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration.