Can NetVirt — an open source network virtualization platform within OpenDaylight — be used to easily create and manage virtual networks in an OpenStack cloud environment? Well, that’s its goal!
At OpenDaylight Summit in Seattle late September, Red Hat demonstrated OpenDaylight (ODL) as a software-defined network (SDN) controller for OpenStack. We illustrated the integration of the OpenDaylight new release of Boron with the Mitaka release of OpenStack. The primary objective of the demo was to show how NetVirt can easily create and manage virtual networks that are flexible, secure and scalable.
NetVirt is a network virtualization solution within OpenDaylight which provides multi-tenant networks in a cloud environment. Each virtual cloud network functions like a borderless LAN and provides fully switched, any-to-any connectivity between servers, across data centers, from anywhere.
The NetVirt project is a new project created in the Boron release based on code split from the 0pen vSwitch database (OVSDB) NetVirt and code from the VPN Service project. NetVirt supports Open vSwitch based virtualization for software switches, hardware VXLAN tunnel endpoints (VTEPs) for hardware switches, and service function chaining within a virtualized environment. Red Hat is one of the main contributors to NetVirt, with Sam Hague of Red Hat as the current project lead.
The Red Hat ODL and OpenStack demo at ODL Summit
The demo showed how OpenStack was able to easily and automatically communicate with ODL via an ODL ML2 driver within Neutron. We created the network (see graphic below) and showed traffic going back and forth between one of our virtual servers and various public servers such as google.com and yahoo.com. We showed the OpenStack Horizon dashboard displaying the network diagram, while the network was being created and finally after the network was created. While traffic was going back and forth between our virtual machine (VM) and the outside world, through a ping session, we showed the flow dump of the traffic using a clever filtering script, which nicely displayed the pipeline, confirming the proper flow of traffic.
Network topology of the demo
Going forward, NetVirt and OVSDB will continue as separate projects within OpenDaylight but still share the same meeting and IRC channel.
Red Hat’s contributions and strategy for the ODL SDN controller
Red Hat’s contributions to NetVirt and OpenDayLight in general are focused on providing better network virtualization services to our current products especially Red Hat OpenStack Platform, where we are currently offering a limited set of ODL projects packaged together with our subscription. Please note that although we integrate ODL as part of Red Hat OpenStack Platform, we do not offer ODL or any other standalone SDN controllers as an independent product. ODL is currently offered in technology preview and not fully supported.
We welcome and currently work with several networking vendors to provide the fabric (physical network devices) for our solution. Our solution typically uses overlay tunnels so the fabric is “transparent,” but ODL does have capabilities that interact with the hardware using various protocols such as OVSDB. For example, NetVirt supports using the OVSDB hw_vtep schema to connect top of rack (TOR) switches to the virtual overlay network so that physical devices connected to the TORs can communicate seamlessly with VMs. In fact, the idea of using ODL to interact directly with physical switches is something we would like to explore with partners. We encourage the industry to adopt open source protocols and interfaces on network devices through ODL.
We also welcome vendors who offer commercial SDN controllers based on ODL to work with us. We think that in many cases those vendors are not in the business of maintaining the “base” ODL platform, and their added value is either in the hardware or in different software plugins (northbound applications or southbound plugins in ODL terminology). We can offer a support model where we ship the base ODL platform and have them plug their add-ons on top of that.
And last but not least, the fact that we include ODL in our offering does not mean that we will stop working with partners to integrate and certify commercial SDN controllers against Red Hat OpenStack Platform, whether they are based on ODL-based or not.
We’d love to hear your insights on NetVirt, ODL and SDN. Please share them in our comments section below.