The CloudRouter project, an open source virtual router, is launching today. Peering specialist International Internet Exchange (IIX) is spearheading the project, claiming it’s a way for enterprises to better control the pace of migration to cloud services and software-defined networking (SDN).
CloudRouter is not meant to be solely an IIX gig, but the concept does seem to have started with Paul Gampe, who joined IIX as CTO in December. Palo Alto-based IIX is CloudRouter’s primary sponsor and lead contributor.
It’s easy to be cynical about yet another open source project sprouting up, especially since “open source” doesn’t mean much unless a community steps up to participate. Declaring something open source doesn’t magically make it useful.
But IIX brings some open source street cred. Jay Turner, IIX’s senior director of DevOps and lead for the CloudRouter Project, was a 16-year veteran of Red Hat before joining the interconnection company in January. As Red Hat’s director of engineering, he says, “I had my fingers in just about every pie that came out of the factory.”
Turner is part of a team assembled by Gampe — a former Red Hat vice president — with the goal of stepping up IIX’s open source participation. IIX researcher David Jorm, for example, was pivotal in helping the OpenDaylight Project establish security processes in the wake of a vulnerability that was reported but left untreated for months. IIX has now joined OpenDaylight as well.
An Intermediate Step to Cloud
CloudRouter aims to provide one virtual router image suitable across multiple environments: virtual machines, Docker containers, and Cloudius’ OSv, a cloud operating system developed by some of the people who brought us the KVM hypervisor.
Every major router vendor has announced a virtual router of some sort. But CloudRouter believes virtual routers haven’t yet reached a form fully suitable for SDN.
“You can get enough pieces and cobble them together, but we wanted to streamline that and put something together that the community could interact with,” says Jay Turner, IIX’s senior director of DevOps and also the lead for the CloudRouter Project.
Moreover, vendor architectures tend to be split between the old, hardware-based network and a new SDN network, Turner says. CloudRouter is intentionally built for a gradual migration from one to the other.
“It seems like there’s a gap in the middle that’ll force folks to completely re-architect their systems,” Turner says. “We’re hoping to engage folks looking to bridge that gap who don’t see a path with their current vendors. It’s not a rip-and-replace. We’re coming in as an addition.”
Turner’s other arguments for the project are its community roots — a bit of comfort for customers fearing vendor lock-in — and its ease of use. “One of the biggest complaints we’ve heard around this industry about SDN and NFV is about getting your arms wrapped around them and making them easily understood,” he says.
CloudRouter offers the choice of routing code from open source projects Bird and Quagga. On the SDN side, CloudRouter includes the latest code release from the OpenDaylight Project, “to allow you to begin experimenting with that functionality,” Turner says. “Again, it’s kind of that stair-step enablement.”