SAN JOSE, Calif. – Google described at Design West open source software that creates a rudimentary router on a PC. The Vandervecken project is a research effort that handles less than 1,000 routes as a proof-of-concept for the emerging OpenFlow protocol.
The search giant was an early champion of OpenFlow as an enabler of software-defined networking. Its goal is to simplify the cost and management of today’s networks that require complex systems and software based on proprietary ASICs and operating systems.
With OpenFlow “you can get way more control over your network than you have now,” said Josh Bailey, a network researcher for Google based in New Zealand.
Bailey tapped into a live network using his software running on a PC to control two OpenFlow switches. The code currently controls a small office network in the engineering department of the Victoria University of Wellington where he also teaches.
The small net uses two Pica8 3780 OpenFlow switches but could also be run using OpenFlow switches from NEC or Hewlett-Packard, he said. The software makes ports on geographically distributed switches appear as Cisco router ports on a single Microsoft Exchange system.
“This is entirely an open source project aimed at helping people put the pieces together so they can create their own implementations to help the industry and research community push things forward,” said Bailey.
The project “is absolutely a research tool,” he said. “I wouldn’t run a business on it, but you can get started hacking on it right away,” he added.
The code is a derivative of the RouteFlow open source software. It is based on OpenFlow version 1.0, but future work will upgrade to more recent versions that support IPv6 and MPLS.
Separately, Google recently demonstrated an OpenFlow network supporting about 10,000 routes, working with the U.S. Department of Energy. “There is now hardware available that can handle 100,000 flows with actual practical devices--it’s a party and everyone’s invited if they want to join,” he said.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.