It had been some time since we last caught up with the team at ON.Lab, and after seeing their cool demos at the recent Open Networking Summit, we felt that it was probably time to catch up with the team of Guru Parulkar, Bill Snow and recent addition Larry Peterson over at the labs and find out what’s new, and also see if they had thoughts on all the recent hoopla and buzz around OpenDaylight.
SDNCentral: Since the last time we chatted, ON.Lab has been making lots of progress. Seems like the ON.Lab team has grown in size in particular. How many people are there in ON.Lab now and how many of them joined in the last 6 months?
Guru: “ON.Lab has grown significantly since we last spoke. We now have 11 full time engineers and 6 visiting engineers. The team has grown steadily over the course of the first ten months. If you count Larry Peterson who joined ON.Lab as the Chief Architect and member of the board from Princeton University and his team, then we would be over 15 full time engineers. One key person we hope to add soon is an open source community manager/evangelist to help shepherd our projects through the open source life cycle. The team is a powerful mix of people with experience and track record in both research and corporate product development.”
SDNCentral: What projects are you focused on today at ON.Lab?
Bill: “During this past year we transitioned three projects from research to production: Mininet (SDN emulation system), FlowVisor (network slicing platform) and NetSight (network trouble shooting system). In addition, we initiated three new projects: ONOS–a distributed, scale-out, highly available network operating system; SDN-IP Peering–an SDN application that allows SDN networks to peer with the rest of the Internet using BGP ( done in collaboration with IP Infusion) and TestON– a fully automated test framework for building automated test systems, built in collaboration with Paxterra. With Larry joining ON.Lab we are starting to look at how our SDN platforms help enable a more open cloud infrastructure for research and experimentation.”
SDNCentral: What did you demo at ONS 2013? Seems like you had a good crowd at your exhibit.
Bill: “We had three very successful demos at ONS. We focused on our new projects: ONOS, SDN-IP Peering and TestON. ONOS is an experimental network operating system that was built specifically to provide an open source code base to the community who are interested in using SDN for the WAN. There is no open source code base that starts with design goals of horizontal scale-out, high availability and appropriate abstractions for applications.
We demonstrated all three of these ONOS capabilities at ONS. With SDN-IP peering we demonstrated how it is possible to have the SDN domain live in the world of BGP networks and be able to keep the SDN domain free of legacy routing protocols (ISIS, OSPF). We showed how a BGP speaker on behalf of the SDN domain can peer with other BGP domains, synchronize a RIB, translate the RIB into flow entries and maintain routes through failures. We showed not only peer-peer traffic, but also transit traffic and how we can maintain availability through various network failures.
Finally, with TestON, we showed an open source framework/harness to build automated tests specifically targeted at SDN implementations. Paxterra is an expert in the world of network testing and test automation so we started a collaboration with them to bring to the SDN community an open source code base that anyone can use to build up automated test systems and share test cases and results.”
SDNCentral: Can you share more about ONOS? Seems like a relatively ambitious project, taking on features normally seen in commercial offerings?
Bill: “We strongly believe that there must be an open source controller/network operating system that targets WAN. The WAN operators are typically carriers, ISPs, data center interconnects. They require first that the control plane capacity has to seamlessly grow with the demand. These networks also have very high availability requirements. The architecture has to allow implementations to reach 5 nines of availability. Finally, we feel it is important that the network OS provide a network map abstraction to accelerate creation of network control and management applications.
We wanted to show an example of how the new abstraction can bring power to application programmers. It is an ambitious project and we have just gotten started. We are very pleased that the team stepped up and was able to create an exciting demo to showcase the core capabilities of ONOS. Our team includes members with background in networking and web systems. This combination turned out to be very powerful as lessons from scaling web systems and open source tools are important for ONOS.
The demo and team received a lot of positive feedback from various members of the community including leaders in the space.”
SDNCentral: What’s your stance on OpenDaylight?
Guru: “We are big believers and champions of open source SDN and in this regard we are very excited by the prospects of OpenDaylight. We see some promising software brought into open source as a result of OpenDaylight initiative . We hope OpenDaylight is successful and the software will become widely used. The Linux Foundation is an organization with experience building open source communities and we are happy they are providing the governance. We hope some of our work will also find a way to help the community around OpenDaylight and we will look for areas to provide complementary technology.
Finally, we hope that the large number of participants will not come in the way of producing high quality software on an appropriate timescale. If we have any worry it is in seeing such a large number of companies be able to effectively execute together toward a common goal and networking community’s lack of experience with open source projects.”
SDNCentral: I understand Larry Peterson joined you recently. What’s Larry’s role in ON.Lab?
Guru: “We are delighted that Larry joined ON.Lab as the Chief Architect. He brings tremendous expertise and credibility to ON.Lab in the areas of software and cloud systems in addition to networking. As the founder and architect of PlanetLab, he has lot of first hand experience building complex software platforms and multi-tenant cloud infrastructure for the research and education communities. As a co-founder of the content distribution platform company Coblitz, he has insights about cloud infrastructure for the telecom operators. He will lead ON.Lab’s initiative on SDN based OpenCloud and will also help teams with the architecture of SDN tools and platforms.”
And so, with Larry taking on a critical role at ON.Lab, we reached out to Larry Peterson to get his point of view.
SDNCentral: Hi Larry, nice to meet you! Tell us, why did you join ON.Lab?
Larry: “I saw a unique opportunity to work at the intersection of an area I’ve spent a lot of time in — running network functionality in virtualized commodity processors at the edge of the network (now being called NFV by telcos) — and SDN. There are many interesting challenges in unifying the data center and the network edge, in unifying server virtualization and network virtualization, and “raising our game” from managing servers to managing services.”
SDNCentral: What do you see as interesting about SDN? Is it transformative?
Larry: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that SDN will be transformative, but what’s interesting to me isn’t SDN in isolation, but SDN as a tool for creating new computing paradigms. To return to the NFV example, we have an opportunity to rethink how services and applications are distributed over the network — between data centers (where resources are centralized by abundant) and the network edge where resources are constrained but location — proximity to end users — is everything.”
SDNCentral: What will be your focus during first 3-6 months?
Larry: “I will be focused on defining and prototyping an architecture for a research cloud — which we calling OpenCloud — that will give the research community an opportunity to more strongly influence cloud technology. OpenCloud will have virtualized commodity processors at both data center and in access networks across the US, all connected by an SDN-enabled national backbone.”
SDNCentral: Thank you, Guru, Bill and Larry, for your time! Sounds like you have very ambitious and exciting projects that will certainly bring significant value to the overall SDN ecosystem. We wish you the very best until the next time we chat!