Open Networking Summit 2012 Day 1 Recap, part 2

The afternoon speakers on the opening day of ONS had a tall shadow cast from the excellent morning keynotes, but they did not disappoint, first showcasing the rapid and succesful growth and significant use cases for SDN, and then presenting some significant new developments both on SDN technologies and also showcasing new developments on how SDN can solve significant challenges with internet architecture and cloud computing.

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Next, Georgia Tech Professor Nick Feamster presented some immensely valuable and very significant work on new challenges with configuration management in highly dynamic cloud environments. Dr. Feamster first highlighted that the tools used today (such as Modular QOS CLI and ACL's) to implement network policy are not very expressive for translating business rules into actionable policy. As examples he cited time-of-day-based restrictions, bandwidth caps, and infected hosts with needs for quarantine and remediation as examples of criteria that is either difficult, non-standard, or impossible to enforce in traditional networking systems. Dr. Feamster expanded the problem definition by noting the extent that network configuration errors still cause network outages, and highlighted how his solution can address this significant challenge. As a solution, Dr. Feamster's team is working on a project called Lithium which utilizes event-based network control. Lithium treats network policies as event-based programs, allowing the controller's finite-state-machine to invoke events to trigger network state changes. One example that Dr. Feamster highlighted was a new approach to implementing NAC within SDN architecture which in my view could offer a significant improvement over the solutions available today.

Rounding out the day, Prof. Jun Bi of Tsinghua University gave an excellent presentation on remaining challenges for SDN and OpenFlow deployment in large-scale networks. Prof. Bi covered so much research in his presentation it is hard to summarize, providing a great showcase of significant contributions to networking research. First, Prof. Bi showed some excellent work done on adapting and testing OpenFlow in IPv6 environments. Next, he noted challenges with uRPF amplified by IPv6 as well as extensive multi-pathing and flow steering in software defined networks. Prof. Bi reported on a solution called "Calculated Path Filtering," which is a mechanism that takes advantage of the SDN global control plane to create an interesting test for the evolution of uRPF. Prof. Bi's model leveraged an innovative approach to accomplish the goal leveraging some proposed OpenFlow tlv's and distributed routers. I am not convinced that this model of distributed routing will continue unchanged as SDN architectures advance, but it is an interesting showcase of a hybrid approach which could provide an example of how existing NOS control-plane functions could be repurposed. I will be interested to see how this would function with a routing model like RouteFlow, or other approaches that utilize centralized L3 control plane services distributed via intelligent agents.

Prof. Bi continued reporting on research on a model for named data networking, which has a similar goal as Serval: to change the internet routing model from being host centric to being service centric. He proposed an interesting model that would include 3 tables in the network forwarding plan, a "content store", a "pending interest table" and finally the standard FIB, providing an interesting exercise in considering the implication of a post-IP, service centric network. Finally Prof. Bi gave updates on projects advancing NOS challenges through a virtualization platform, and also on a framework for dynamic negotiation of Inter-domain policy negotiation.

To close I would like to borrow a slide from Dan Pitt's excellent presentation that I think captured the spirit of the day:

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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