I just returned from the fantastic NANOG57 (North American Network Operators' Group) conference in Orlando last week, where we had an excellent combination of tutorials and talks on current topics for network operators. We had some BoFs, panel discussions and even a few presentations on SDN at past NANOGs, so for this conference we wanted more focus on the topic. We invited the team from Indiana University (IU) GlobalNOC to come and talk about what they are doing with Internet2’s Open Science, Scholarship and Services Exchange (OS3E) initiative.
Monday morning started off with a comprehensive 1½ hour tutorial on OpenFlow that explained SDN concepts and the OpenFlow protocol in detail. The room was packed and it was one of the best-attended tutorials we’ve ever had at the conference, especially considering it started at 9:00 on a Monday. What I really liked about this tutorial was that it was highly interactive, and used lots of hands-on exercises to demonstrate key concepts in a series of steps that built on each other. First, basic OpenFlow controller operation was demonstrated, then attendees added port-based and IP-based rules to forward traffic, and verified that the rules were working.
After the tutorial, the NOGLab opened where IU had setup their OE-SS demo (NOGLab information starts at slide 30). The demo used a rack-sized network to show in concept what Internet2 is using in production to provision Layer 2 circuits over their national 100 GbE backbone. A multivendor network with Brocade, Dell, IBM and NEC switches was connected together to form two separate backbone networks and OE-SS was used to control the provisioning via OpenFlow. Two demo stations were available to let people use point-and-click provisioning to build circuits over the backbone. We had great attendance throughout the demo, which was open during the scheduled breaks in the conference agenda. There was a steady flow of people during all three days who lingered and talked with the IU staff about OpenFlow and their experience with SDN.
My takeaway is that the SDN content at NANOG57 was received with great interest and was a very successful addition to the program. Network operators were given the opportunity to not only learn about OpenFlow, but also to see it running in the demo and to play around with it. I’d especially like to thank Ed Bales, AJ Ragusa, Chris Small, and Steve Wallace for giving us such a great tutorial, an awesome NOGLab demo, and for all the valuable discussion they had with people at the conference. As we start to plan the program for the next NANOG, I expect that we’ll continue to add more content on SDN and OpenFlow.