Introducing OpenStack and virtual network support for Floodlight

For anyone even remotely following cloud infrastructure, its been hard to avoid the collision of OpenStack, OpenFlow, and Software-Defined Networking.  In less than two years, OpenStack has grown to a community of over 180 companies and over 3000 active developers, offering Apache-licensed software for building public and private clouds.  Over the same two years, OpenFlow and SDN have seen similar growth.  The Floodlight controller has been downloaded over 5000 times since its launch in January and the Open Networking Summit this past April attracted over 900 attendees (with several hundred more on the waiting list).

Simultaneously, Quantum, a networking-as-a-service module, has emerged in the OpenStack ecosystem.  Quantum offers a plugin architecture through which multi-tenant virtual networking can be connected in OpenStack.  The new service has reached incubation status in the “Essex” release and will be promoted to being a core project in the “Folsom” release in several months.  In fact, a couple plugins offering open source SDN services, like Ryu, have begun to spring up as well.

Having watched the interest growing around both Floodlight and Quantum over the past few months, we’re incredibly excited to announce the release of a new Quantum plugin and virtual networking module for Floodlight.  The new functionality allows users to manage isolated multi-tenant networks using Floodlight and standard OpenStack interfaces.

There are two main components of the solution we are releasing today:

  1. RestProxy Plugin – This is a Quantum plugin that sends Quantum api calls to a remote controller.   Its available on the Floodlight website today and we’ll be offering this to the Quantum community for inclusion with its other plugins.
  1. VirtualNetworkFilter module – This is a module in Floodlight that implements the Quantum API.  It creates a filtering layer on top of Floodlight’s forwarding capabilities to isolate sets of MAC addresses without relying on VLANs.   Its available in v0.85 of Floodlight released today.  Note that this module can be run independently of Quantum and OpenStack as well as a general network isolation tool.

In addition to offering support for Open vSwitch, Floodlight brings a broad range of physical OpenFlow switch support to Quantum and OpenStack.   At Interop this past May, Floodlight was tested with switches from Juniper, Arista, NEC, HP, Huawei, Brocade, Extreme, and  Pica8 and it was designed to handle mixed OpenFlow and non-OpenFlow topologies that often appear in datacenters today.

With the release of the RestProxy Plugin and VirtualNetworkFilter, we’re hoping to lay the foundation for collaboration between the OpenFlow and OpenStack developer communities.  Floodlight developers can now turn their modules and applications into Quantum extensions, adding advanced networking capabilities, and the broader OpenStack development community can use Floodlight and its extensible API to understand the power of programmable, Software-Defined Networks.

Soheil Hassas Yeganeh,  a PhD student at University of Toronto working with Floodlight and OpenStack, shared his thoughts with me after giving the plugin a test drive and I wanted to share them with everyone.

“Floodlight is not just another isolation service in OpenStack. It is an open, production-ready OpenFlow controller, with quite a few ready-made networking services, that the OpenStack community can leverage and innovate upon.”

If you are interested in test driving the new plugin, you should check out the instructions we have posted on the Floodlight wiki.  And of course, if you have any questions, please jump in on the mailing list as well!


— Mike Cohen and the Floodlight team

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