Network technology

One of the primary functions of the research network is to ensure stable, generous and cost efficient network resources. The innovation program has ongoing activities that monitor and test the latest in network technology. The research network should always be among pioneers, making use of the latest network technology. UNINETT has close cooperation with national industry and research, as well as international partners, in exploring the lates technology available.

Uninett IoU core in Launch of Unique Music Technology Master

Wednesday August 29th NTNU’s and UiO’s joint master program “Music, Communication and Technology (MCT)” was officially opened. The program intents to train students with diverse backgrounds in topics related to musical and artistic collaboration over the Internet.

Heart of the program is a multimedia portal interconnection NTNU and UiO to realize an extended experimental lab for musical and artistic projects. Two dedicated rooms are linked with a collection of video conferencing technologies, including technologies developted by CESNET and GARR.

Uninett was acknowledged as an important contributer to the foundations for the master program as well as an critical supplier of network capacity for the portal.

More information about the program, unique in its kind, may be found via NTNU web site as well as UiO’s web site.

 

 

Clean Sky and Netsys 2017

In week 11 (March 13-17) 2017 both Clean Sky‘s (an EU ITN) annual conference as well as the  NetSys 2017 conference took place in Göttingen, Germany. UNINETT visited both events.

The Clean Sky fellows (PhD students) are all progressing steadily with their SDN-NFV topics. A majority of the works focus on optimizing different aspects of a future edge/fog computing environment.  Among the topics presented (some by keynote speakers) this time was

  • ClusPR: An algorithm for optimized placement of both flows and VNF in a topology
  • Profiling the edge network: Work in progress to anonymized web-logs so that they may be applied for user interests analysis
  • Multihop middle-box selection: New DNS record suggested to enable a client to influence how a chain of middle-boxes is to be composed
  • NFV state migration: “Statelets” introduced (small state update packets) to enable close to seamless migration of a VFN.
  • VNF placement in the edge-cloud: Network cost, processing cost with energy parameters are included in  a placement algorithm. IoT is the target domain.
  • Deploying distributed application: A VNF is just a high performance (low delay and/or high throughput) micro-service. Software developer need to supply quantitative information (from code profiling) to deployments engineers. New deployment templates suggested.

UNINETT is currently hosting one of the Clean Sky fellows and supporting him in his work on profiling user behavior to optimized data caching and computation in fog-computing contexts. Web server logs will (hopefully) be made available, after being anonymized, for profiling analysis (ref. pin 2 above).

NetSys 2017 presented work from a fairly broad range of networking research topics. “Single line” summaries of the more relevant presentations, seen from a backbone operators point of view, follows below.

  • Sufian Hameed et al (NUCES) presented a light weight protocol which may utilize SDN equipment in multiple domains (ASes) to block DDoS attacks efficiently.
  • Nicholas Gray et al (University of Würzburg) suggested a hot-standby regime for L4 firewalls.
  • Robert Bauer et al (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) showed how “flow load” distribution can be realized in an SDN network. A switch with full FIB may be offloaded by having entries moved to neighboring switches.
  • Leonhard Nobach et al (Technische Universität Darmstadt) presented how the balance between applying FPGA or COTS hardware for NFV can be optimized.
  • Keynote speaker Henning Schulzrinne ( Columbia University) emphasized that IoT expose all security deficiencies of the internet. There is currently little incentive for producers and consumers to change this, since none of them are directly affected when IoT devices are exploited for e.g. DDoS attacks. Large scale management (enrollment, updates, …) of IoT devices will be crucial in the future.
  • Cristina Muñoz et al (University of Cambridge) explained how iterative bloom-filters may be applied to reduce FIB size in a named data network (or information centric network, ICN)  node.
  • Keynote speaker Wieland Holfelder (Google Germany GmbH) recommends Googles tensorflow.org project for machine learning.
  • Keynote speaker Rolf Stadler (KTH) showed how a prediction engine can be trained to predict QoE-parameters from system KPI values only (e.g. from statistics in linux servers’s  /proc or just statistics from network switches.)
  • Claas Lorenz (genua GmbH) suggested how complex firewall rule sets may be analyses and verified efficiently.

In search for “the meaning of SDN”

UNINETTs 2015 innovation project on SDN technology has continued the search for a “the meaning of SDN” for an IP backbone network operator. A growing number of vendors and  communities (both commercially driven and more idealistic)  keep on announcing enthusiastically SDN as the way to go while also posting warnings about believing SDN is the panacea for network management challenges.

What is clear so far is that the big players providing could services, e.g. Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft Azure and Google, have made great advancements within the data center management domain by introducing SDN controlled switching hardware and centralized control and orchestration software. Several papers reporting such success where presented at e.g. Sigcomm 2015 . Strict top-down control enables (not surprisingly) configurations which push utilization of resources close to 100%. Near optimal reconfiguration due to dynamic demands is also achievable.

When it comes to SDN applied in an average backbone network (e.g. like UNINETT), a growing number of option seem to emerge, much due to advances made in data center networking.

  • Capacities of open networking SDN hardware has increased to 10/40Gbps
  • SDN controllers have matured. Several open source license free alternatives are now relevant.

But when it comes to orchestration of a overall SDN based infrastructure, the options available are less. Most open frameworks, e.g. like Open Stack, are tuned towards data center resource management. It is not obvious how such frameworks can be reapplied in a backbone context.  The big cloud service players do to a large extent have their inter-data center backbone networks operated by SDN infrastructures. However their orchestration systems are “home grown”, potentially not general enough, and not (yet) publicly available.

UNINETTs SDN2015 innovation project has resulted in gained knowledge in the domain of SDN through a collection of activities.

  • Aryan TaheriMonfared, partly funded by UNINETT,  completed his PhD October 26th 2015. His thesis is titled “Software-Defined Networking Architecture Framework for Multi-Tenant Enterprise Cloud Environments”
  • A half day workshop on SDN was successfully held in August 2015.
  • A re-initiation of UNINETTs SDN-lab has been started. Due to cost and timeing factors, a locally located variant of the lab is now in progress (instead of the first inter-city variant). The mail aim now is to better enable experimentation with inter-datacenter traffic management.
  • Participation in the InaaS task of Geant4 1 year JRA2 has been done. Due to limited overlap with activities directly relevant for UNINETT, an observatory role was taken.
  • UNINETT has contributed in applications for research project funding within the SDN-domain.
  • Analysis of controller organization and placement in a futuristic SDN-based UNINETT backbone has been initiated, but not yet concluded.
  • A presentation on datacentre backbone networks was held at the EU FP7 Clean Sky Summer School in Göttingen in September 2015.

 

PHD in SDN at University of Stavanger

Aryan Taherimonfared has completed his PHD at the University of Stavanger within Software Defined Networking(SDN). His PHD advisor was Chunming Rong. He has been working for UNNETT contributing to the UNINETT SDN-project as well during this time.

Thesis abstract

The contribution of this thesis is twofold. First, several architectural improvements are proposed for network monitoring services. These proposals take advantage of the data-intensive computing model and SDN mechanisms to advance the state-of-the-art in monitoring backbone and data centre networks. Second, various components of an SDN architecture framework are designed that enhance the efficacy, reliability, and manageability of a large-scale cloud infrastructure. The enhancements are particularly made to network virtualization techniques, which are the critical building blocks in the cloud service delivery.

Read the thesis at http://www.ux.uis.no/~aryan/docs/thesis/

Workshop on SDN, Summer 2015

UNINETT invited to a another workshop in our series of half day workshops on SDN at the end of the summer, August 27 2015. 8 people attended, arriving from Transpacket, Department of Telematics at NTNU and UNINETT. Two participants attended remotely from Oslo.

The workshop program was the following

Presentation slides will soon become available.

Discussions went lively throughout the workshop, and many aspects and challenges with SDN where addressed. The participants where in general satisfied with the workshop (even though attendance was somewhat lower than expected). Hence UNINETT will strive to offer another workshop in the spring 2016.

SDN at SIGCOMM 2015

Close to 1/3 of all main track presentation at SIGCOMM 2015 in London, August 18-20, addressed challenges and experiences related to data centres. Software Defined Networking was often the actual or assumed underlying technology.

All SIGCOMM 2015 papers are available online  via the conference web site.

A general impression is that most accepted work at SIGCOMM is funded by “the big players”, e.g. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Cisco. A majority of work presented reports results from mature research often already deployed in pilot (and even production) infrastructures. Hence few “crazy” new ideas are introduced.

Fortunately the poster sessions did give room for some novel and surprising ideas, among them free space optics based intra-data centre networks with physical multicast capabilities.

This post summarises a selection of the papers presented.

  • Best paper award:  Stefano Vissicchio et al from UCLouvain presented their SDN concept added on top of a link-state routed network. A central controller introduce fake nodes by communicating tailored link state announcements to routers in the network, and enable traffic engineering on a source-destination level. If the controller fails, the system default back to standard link-state behaviour.
  • Keynote:  Albert Greenberg from Microsoft explained how the Azure infrastructure is running close to 100% on SDN technology. 40Gbps 4 level clos networks interconnects servers in data centres. Data centre resources are now applied to operate the data centre, e.g. fairly intense active monitoring of end-to-end paths by running traffic generators and sinks.
  • Policy languages: Prakash et al from University of Wisconsin-Madison presented a graph based system for better policy conflict managements. Set theory is applied. It seems to scale well, but results are none-deterministic.
  • Resource management: Several papers presented techniques to optimize placement and access to data centre resource. Scheduling challenges were addressed. Google gave a historical summary of their data centre activities explaining how and what they have learned is important to be able to scale up their installations.
  • Wireless aspects: A set of papers look into the utilizing backscatter, i.e. superimposing signals on top of reflected or transit waves from other sources,  in new ways.  High accuracy positioning with off-the-shelf  wifi equipment was also address by several groups.
  • Video streaming: Work on optimization of content placement in content delivery networks (CDNs) where presented, as well as advanced control theory driven rate control in video players
  • Physical internet: Ramakrishnan Durairajan et al from University of Wisconsin – Madison presented work on mapping physical infrastructure of US based ISPs. Results show that ducts are shared frequently and as many as 80% share at least one duct. Hence care is needed to ensure true resilience when multi-homing to different ISPs.

Otto’s personal notes are available on request.

Trends for network control and management

Even though Software Defined Networking (SDN) has been around for a decade at least, it has gained significant momentum the last few years. See for instance [1] for comprehensive summary of the technology. The momentum stems very much from success stories told by large global players like Google, Facebook and Amazon about implementations of SDN infrastructure in and between their data centres. Recently ,some large network operator have also join in “selling” SDN to the rest of the crowd, e.g. AT&T has announced their grand project [2] adding SDN infrastructure to most of their network (and even to some extent replace the current one).

So, does this mean SDN is the path to go for most ISP, e.g. an operator like UNINETT?

This post summarizes some potential gains and also some concerns with respect to introducing SDN in a IP backbone like UNINETT.

  • Reduced equipment cost: One major argument for moving towards an SDN based infrastructure is the potential savings with respect to equipment costs. Core to  SDN is open standardized interfaces between forwarding hardware, control systems and orchestrating management systems. In principle (an in line with an old vision within the network management domain) an operator should be able to pick SDN equipment, controller software and management software from different vendors and connect everything together in harmony. We are not just there yet.  A bottom up approach is  commencing it seems. The Open Flow protocol [3] for interfacing “dumb” switching/forwarding equipment is now well supported. Dominating vendors like Cisco, Juniper and HP have added support in their products, but the  smaller innovative vendors are more interesting with respect to equipment cost. It seems the new openness between forwarding plans and control plane may give operators more freedom when shopping for hardware upgrades. They  may go for a new vendor without having to replace/re-educate their control and management systems/engineers.
  • Shared and “free” open source control systems:  Low cost “dumb” switches require a controller infrastructure to do anything at all. As a result of the openness and standardization of the control protocols, communities have formed to join forces in developing controller software as open source projects, e.g. like the Open Daylight project [4] . Such software is traditionally bundled with the switching hw and hence available only at rather high cost. Open source SDN controllers are maturing, and are already reported applied in production setting. But as for all open source software, even though the code is free, there is a cost in tailoring the software, ensuring availability and debugging when those bugs surface.  An ISP like UNINETT could probably manage the cost and effort of handling one such controller, or a pair to ensure availability. But the number of controllers required may turn out to be more than just a few since…
  • … you need orchestration: The large players report how they need to compose clusters of controllers to handle the load of control traffic between the controllers and the switching hardware. Redundancy is required to ensure availability. But what coordinates all these controllers? Google admits a lot of effort is spent on developing the required super-controller (called “Andromeda” [5]) which over-sees and orchestrates the team of controllers which again connect to the switching hardware. Smaller ISPs like UNINETT will not likely have the resources required to develop and/or tailor an orchestrating super-controller with sufficient quality today. There are some recent open source initiatives founded in research projects aiming to develop such super-controllers. Hence small ISPs may soon get a framework for free, however tailoring will be crucial as the super-controller will have the power to reconfigure and/or bring down the whole ISP infrastructure.
  • Change of management “culture”: SDN enables logically centralized control of the network which again opens for more optimized overall routing and traffic engineering. As much of  Internet’s success stems from its distributed nature, it will take many good arguments to convince senior network engineers that a path towards centralized control (even though only logically) is one to follow.  Cultures change slowly, likely also network management cultures.
  • New network aware application: With respect to what an average customer will gain from an SDN enable network infrastructure, there is at least one area which is interesting, network aware applications. An SDN controller infrastructure may provide a “slice” of the network to an application, and  hence enable it to manage a set of network resources as best suited for the application, including routing and shaping the traffic. More “aggressive” applications with respect to network usage may emerge since the friendly behaviour (e.g. TCP friendliness, thin flow protection) required when transport resources are shared in a best effort manner will no longer be significant.

To summaries, an average commercial national ISP will likely still wait for a while before replacing traditional routing equipment with SDN based systems. An ISP like UNINETT however, being a research network operator, should probably continue building up a parallel experimental backbone infrastructure based on SDN, and at some point run performance tests on live traffic. SDN can be key to keep costs down, but also open up opportunities for innovative ICT systems designs. Giving those PhD and Msc students their own slice of the network to play around may fuel development of new and surprising systems and applications.

References

  1. Kreutz, D.; Ramos, F.M.V.; Esteves Verissimo, P.; Esteve Rothenberg, C.; Azodolmolky, S.; Uhlig, S., “Software-Defined Networking: A Comprehensive Survey,” Proceedings of the IEEE , vol.103, no.1, pp.14,76, Jan. 2015
  2. ONS2014 Keynote: John Donovan, Senior EVP, AT&T Technology & Network Operations
  3. Open Networking Foundation: Open Flow
  4. OpenDaylight, A Linux Foundation Collaborative Project
  5. Andromeda, Google’s orchestrator service

“Routing and dependability 2014” ends – Results

The “Routing and dependability 2014” was completed at the end of 2014. This post summarises work address in the project and results output.

  • Interdomain measurements:  Active intra-domain (within UNINETT)  inter-domain measurements  were performed during a few month time period as part of the ongoing  Dragon-lab initiative. Intra-domain data collected was analysed, and anomalies on the micro second level was investigated. The overall measurements infrastructure combined with the analysis technique proved to be able to detect miss-behaving routers in some of the measurement paths [1]. Thin stream aspect has also been investigated base on intra-domain traffic data supplied by UNINETT [2].  Collected Inter-domain data was also to some extent studied, see next paragraph.
  • Dependability analysis: Active inter-domain measurement data was applied to present a case study in a scientific paper addressing and analysing availability guarantees [3]. More in-depth analysis of UNINETT’s network and systems infrastructures was not pursed to any extent during the project period. Such analysis are still considered very relevant and need to be given priority in upcoming innovation activities.
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN): The majority of efforts spend in the “Routing and dependability” project were focused towards Software Defined Networking (SDN) investigations. UNINETT supported (and still supports) a Phd student at Univerity of Stavanger in his research on SDN [4]. Topics within SDN based network monitoring, SDN “slicing” for multi-tendent support, and SDN security have been studied and ideas published. A Msc thesis from NTNU studying stochastic routing with SDN was completed in 2013 [5]. A alternative stochastic implementation of the “select” function in the Open Flow standard was suggested and evaluated. During the summer 2013 UNINETT participated in Hewlett Packard’s beta testing program for Open Flow 1.3 switch firmware. Even though all functional tests were successful the switching performance experienced was disappointingly far below the switch line speed (<100Mbps on a 1Gbps switch).
  • UNINETT’s SDN lab infrastructure: In cooperation with UiS and UNIK, UNINETT has work on establishing a small lab infrastructure for SDN experimentation [6]. A fully meshed (triangular) topology with a data-centre-like node at UiS in Stavanger, at UNIK outside Oslo and at UNINETT in Trondheim has been the target. Efforts have been spent in configuring nodes as mini-data-centres based on the Open Stack framework. Traffic between the Open stack nodes is to be switched by an SDN controlled network. The lab infrastructure was only partly operational when the project ended, however the efforts will be continued in an upcoming SDN project. As a result of the work on the lab infrastructure UNINETT has a formal collaboration with Transpacket [7] in developing next generation 10Gbps SDN enabled switching equipment.
  • SDN workshops: The project has offered two very successful workshops, one in March 2014 [8] and one in October 2014 [9], where both academic and commercial collaborator attended.
  1. Publication by Lars Landmark et al from 2014.
  2. Tba
  3. Publication by Andres Gonzalez et al in 2015.
  4. Publications by Aryan TaheriMonfared et al from 2012-2014.
  5. Stochastic Switching Using OpenFlow“, Komail Shahmir Shourmasti, Msc thesis, NTNU, 2013.
  6. UNINETT’s SDN lab (internal wiki).
  7. Transpacket AS.
  8. SDN workshop Spring 2014
  9. SDN workshop Autumn 2014

SDN Workshop – Autumn 2014

A one-day workshop on Software Defined Networking (SDN) was held at UNINETT premises October 21 2015. The workshop was the 2nd held this year. Participants from UNINETT, Transpacket, NTNU and Telenor attended, around 10 in total. The program was

  • 10:00-10:05 Welcome
  • 10:00-10:15 Quick intro from all participants
  • 10:15-10:45 Status on UNINETT-UiS-UNIK SDN infrastructure  (pdf)
  • 10:45-11:15 Status from Telenor (pdf)
  • 10:15 – 11:45 Status Transpacket
  • (15min slack)
  • 12:00 – 12:30 Lunch, 1st floor
  • 12:30 – 13:15 Research results summary from UiS
  • 13:15 – 14:15 Results from other research? Opportunities to pursue?
  • 14:15 – 15:00 Status with respect to new PhDs and funding

Presentation are available for download (see program).

A 3rd workshop will be held in spring 2015.