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Internet2 Core Network Migration Project Update

Aug 02, 2017, by Chris Wilkinson
Tags: Advanced Network Services, Frontpage News, Internet2 Network, Network Infrastructure, Recent Posts

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will describe the migration of the Internet2 core Network backbone from OpenFlow to multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) forwarding and, in particular, the migration of AL2S VLAN circuits.


The core network MPLS project originated in late 2015 in response to declining vendor support for OpenFlow. Throughout 2016, the entire Internet2 Network backbone was migrated to a 100% Juniper base, and many of the core nodes were physically replaced or upgraded. In early 2017, the foundational elements of the network were deployed, including establishing the MPLS label switched paths (LSPs) and beginning to deploy Layer3 VRFs for core services.

While Internet2 had been using MPLS with both LDP and RSVP signaling in a limited scope prior to the project, the instantiation was expanded to the entire footprint. In the summer of 2017, a series of software updates to Internet2's Open Exchange Software Suite (OESS) enabled the provisioning of VLANs using MPLS forwarding, and a series of automation scripts were written to migrate and verify community VLANs. Throughout this entire process, extensive continuous improvement cycles and lab testing took place to verify both the processes and technologies. 

All this activity has brought us to the current moment, where we embark on the migration of all AL2S VLANs to MPLS. At the start of the project, there were approximately 1,100 OpenFlow VLANs on AL2S and each must go through the notification, conversion, and verification process. The migration is fully automated, with engineering staff carefully monitoring transitions at each stage. Each VLAN migration is projected to take approximately 90-seconds to complete.

On July 27, a series of maintenance events took place to migrate 139 VLANs associated with the Performance Assurance Service (PAS) to MPLS. This effort took approximately four hours to complete, with a number of conditional bugs corrected, engineering tweaks implemented, and the overall process refined.

On July 31, a second batch of internal VLANs was migrated. In this case, 15 circuits took approximately 25 minutes – falling much closer to the optimal 90-seconds. So far, feedback and testing has revealed no performance challenges with the newly operating MPLS-forwarded VLANs. 

Starting early morning on Friday, August 4, we plan to start the first migration of community partner test VLANs. While the initial batching of operational VLANs will be small – allowing for feedback to take place – future maintenance windows will become progressively longer with larger workgroups accommodated. The project team is working diligently to complete this work prior to the start of the academic year.

The joint-deployment team on this project welcomes feedback, questions, or concerns. Please email and one of us would be happy to chat with you about this activity. For any network trouble or operational concerns, please also include the Internet2 NOC ( in your email.