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Routing

Open Source Router Connects US, Australia

The ONOS Project and partners said Wednesday they have demonstrated the real-world practicality of using a router with open source software to connect networks in Australia and the US. The test validates the vision of SDN, open source for carriers, as well as ON.Lab's ONOS network operating system, according to one of its coordinators.

"SDN is about disaggregation of closed, proprietary boxes and separating of forwarding planes, control planes and applications," says Guru Parulkar, executive director and board member of ON.Lab , which coordinates ONOS development. The communications test between Australia and the US achieved just that, he says. (See ON.Lab Aims to Make White Boxes Carrier-Grade , ON.Lab Intros Open Source SDN OS and SK Telecom Bets on SDN for Wireless.)

The test used "the simplest form of router from different sources," Parulkar says. Canadian startup Corsa Technology Inc. provided its OpenFlow networking switch. ON.Lab provided its ONOS network operating system, as well as a router application supporting the open-source Quagga implementation of the Border Gateway Protocol. The router software, developed in conjunction with the Open Networking Foundation , converts BGP routes into OpenFlow forwarding tables, and passes those on to ONOS.

The Australian end connected Australia's AARNet and CSIRO. AARNet Pty Ltd (APL) is the not-for-profit operating Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet) . CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia's national science organization. An AARNet data center in Haymarket housed a Corsa switch, and a CSIRO research lab in Marsfield, about 15km away, ran the ONOS application.

The US side of things was a Vandervecken SDN controller stack at ESnet in California, using a Corsa switch. ESnet is the US Department of Energy's Energy Sciences Network.

Across the Sea
The router connected facilities in Australia and California. [Source: ONOS Project]
The router connected facilities in Australia and California.
[Source: ONOS Project]

Network Stack
How each end of the connection was configured. [Source: ONOS Project]
How each end of the connection was configured.
[Source: ONOS Project]

"All the building blocks came from different sources, and we were able to integrate that into a functional, high-performance router and deploy it in a real networking setting in Australia and connect it to a router here," Parulkar says.

The routers were able to exchange 15,000 routes in this real transoceanic setting, and 100,000 in a lab where two routers were in the same building.

For the future, AARnet plans to deploy the router in a research and education network, interconnecting nine universities, Parulkar says. "Imagine having Australia's nationwide research and education network powered by an OpenFlow-based and ONOS-based router."

The test is a proof point of ON.Lab's stated objective of demonstrating ONOS as an open source SDN operating system fit for service providers, with the scalability, reliability and performance those networks require, Parulkar says. The test forms part of a plan to get ONOS deployed in the real world with real applications, of which the router is one. "It gives people the confidence that ONOS can work in a real-world setting," he says.


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The test was a successful example of multiple organizations collaborating on an open source project, including a switch vendor, open source organization, and research and educational networks in the US and Australia, Parulkar says. The project required less than eight weeks to begin, deploy and get it functioning. "It speaks highly of the effectiveness of the applications and utility of the building blocks that it came together," he says.

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) was also involved in the project, collaborating with all the parties. "Google has been a champion of SDN for all this time," Parulkar says. "Their participation has been to get the parties together, provide the right encouragement and facilitation, and make that happen." Google has also contributed to the Quagga BGP project and developed the Vandervecken SDN router software. "They want to see this happen, and get all the right parties to do the right thing," Guru says.

For the future, ON.Labs plans more deployments and intends to demonstrate service provider use cases and solutions at the Open Networking Summit in June. Service providers move more deliberately than research and educational networks. ON.Labs plans to have demonstrations of open source service provider use cases running this year, with actual deployments in 2016.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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