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[nznog] NZ scores first OpenFlow controlled connection to an IX

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Dean Pemberton nznog@d...
Tue Dec 11 00:05:48 NZDT 2012

Hi all,

Just wanted to share with you all what we think is a world first,
right here in New Zealand.

Today New Zealand can boast the first SDN controlled OpenFlow switch
BGP peering with a public Internet Exchange.

Because you're all geeks, I've decided to write the rest of the email as a FAQ:

Q:  What is SDN and/or OpenFlow?
A:   It's a new way of thinking about and building network devices.
It stands for Software Defined Networking.  It's basically a way to
separate the control plane from the data plane in order to allow you
unprecedented control over what your network can do, while still
keeping it blindingly fast.
You let the Software do what it's good for (running routing protocols,
making policy decisions) and you let the Hardware do what it's good at
(forwarding stuff at wire speed, zoooooom!).  A match made in heaven

Have a look at the wikipedia page

Or this presentation from OpenFlow

Q:  Why do I care?
A:  SDN and OpenFlow allow you much more control and flexibility over
your network.  It's a new technology however, and people are yet to
begin playing with it.

Q:  Sounds like one of those scary technologies like IPv6 and DNSSEC.
A:  Well if you mean that other people are doing it while you're
ignoring it and hoping that it will go away...  Then you're right.  =)

Just like IPv6, before we saw people willing to deploy it on their
networks they needed to get some experience with how it worked.  We're
at that stage with SDNs at the moment.  It is because of this need for
more experience and public awareness that we've gone ahead with this
little project.

Q:  So what exactly have you done.
A:  We've deployed an OpenFlow controlled switch on the WIX and along
with an OpenFlow controller built a BGP capable router.

Q:  Details?
A:  From the WIX looking glass

Neighbor        V    AS MsgRcvd MsgSent   TblVer  InQ OutQ Up/Down  State/PfxRcd     4  9483   24345   27397        0    0    0 07:21:59        1

Q:  So what?  Is that it?
A:  Hardly.  We've got some more phases that we want to develop, so I
guess this is a watch this space.  Over the next few months, we'll be
working on extending past this single box with a view to demonstrating
to the NZ Internet community, and beyond, whats really possible with
an SDN.  Basically we don't want New Zealand falling behind whats
happening in the rest of the world.

Q:  We're not ready for this.  It's scary, poke it with a stick!!!
A:  Thats fine.  We've chosen to use New Zealand as the initial
production deployment here.  But if it looks like thats not going to
get the traction needed, then there are other places which this would
work in.  Lets make this a good Kiwi development moment though.
Remember how we're so proud of telling people we had EFTPOS so long
before anyone else.

Q:  Pfffft I've heard of this.  It doesn't work!  It's not production ready
A:  Hi, Welcome to the conversation.  You're just the sort of person
we need paying attention.  We're doing this so that people arn't
LISTENING about SDN, but are actually seeing it WORK.  In a real world
production setting.  We hope you can stay for the rest of the show.

Q:  So who else does SDNs.  This sounds a little too much like witchcraft to me.
A:  Well from back in the days of the Juniper M-Series people have
been separating Routing Engines from Packet Forwarding Engines.  We
then started to see multi chassis versions.  This is just an extension
of the same sort of concept.  There are some organisations which run
huge-scale SDN style networks.  Maybe you've used a search engine or
mail platform from one...

Q:  This sounds like a pretty heavy sales pitch.  What are you pushing?
A:  CYNIC!  Nothing.  Just like the reason I'm pushing people to think
about IPv6 and DNSSEC, I want to see the New Zealand Internet
community as a technology innovator, not just someone who swallows
down the latest vendor slide-ware.  And hey if SDN doesn't work then
at least New Zealand still gets to write the book on it.

Q:  Sounds cool, can I help?
A:  Sure, anyone's welcome to come and learn along with the rest of
us.  Drop me a line if you think you can help and we'll see where we
can fit you in.   As a starter I'm looking for between 1 and 3U of
space in Auckland with access to the APE.

Q:  Where can I hear more.
A:  If you're lucky I might do a lightning talk on where we've got to
and where we're going at the NZNOG conference.

Thanks to Prophecy Networks, REANNZ, VUW, Waikato University,
Citylink, FX Networks and others, for their contributions and support
in getting the project to where it is today and for not wanting it to
stop there!


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