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Inter-Domain, Software-Defined Networking Testbed and Application Demonstrated By Chinese and American Network Engineers

Sep 20, 2013, by Stephen Wolff
Tags: Big Data, Collaboration, Datasets for Research, Executive Insights, International, International Community, International Partners, international partnerships, Partnerships, Research & Education Networks, Research Technology, Software Defined Networking

American and Chinese network engineers last week demonstrated a network virtualization technique to abstractly link multiple network domains, each controlled by a different organization, in a scalable, secure, agile, and open fashion. The demonstration, led from Hangzhou, China, enabled the trans-Pacific transfer of genomic data among multiple collaborating networks, showcasing the ability to develop and deploy scientific applications that transfer massive amounts of scientific research data across multiple administrative domains.

While software-defined networking (SDN) is a promising technique to decouple the control of networks from the job of moving data across networks, to date implementations of this technology have been defined only within a single domain. This pioneering demonstration showed that it is now possible to integrate the benefits of SDN into a multi-domain environment, key to increasingly global scientific collaboration.

I moderated the live demonstration and it was operated by Prof. Jun Bi from Tsinghua University and the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) and Dr. Yulei Wu from the China Science and Technology Network (CSTNET) and Chinese Academy of Sciences, the three co-chairs of the Chinese American Networking Symposium SDN & Future Internet Working Group. The new east-west bound interface and mechanism named “WE-Bridge (West-East Bridge)” was originally proposed by Jun Bi and Pingping Lin at Tsinghua University, and the software was implemented by the Future Internet and Innovation Environment project supported by the China “863” high-tech R&D program.

The demonstration that autonomous OpenFlow domains can negotiate their interconnection will be important as our member institutions wish to connect their OpenFlow-enabled campus networks to the Internet2 national OpenFlow infrastructure.

Jun Bi, professor and director of Network Architecture & IPv6 Research Division at Tsinghua University/CERNET network center, executive chair of China SDN & Open Networking Commission, and an ONF research associate said, “There are lots of design and implementation challenges, for example, a new inter-domain resource negotiation approach instead of the full resources control approach, and a new distributed east-west bound interface to scale SDN in the Internet.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Wu commented, “Innovative applications can now be tested and evaluated by large-scale SDN networks formed by different worldwide profit-independent network operators and providers at low cost.”

For the demonstration, controllers of OpenFlow test-beds within CERNET and CSTNET communicated with each other using the WE-Bridge mechanism to exchange domain view information. The International Networking Group at Indiana University (INT@IU) provided the U.S. side of this demonstration. INT@IU engineers deployed an OpenVswitch (OVS), controller, and end host. The WE-Bridge software communicated with a Floodlight controller to write OpenFlow rules to the OVS in order to provide a path to the end host. In the process, a new inter-domain application dynamically selected the best available path and automatically set up flow table entries in a set of OpenFlow devices among the Chinese and U.S. network domains. The genomic data then moved through the Internet2 network into the IU network where the demonstration test-bed is implemented.

The Chinese American Networking Symposium Future Internet Working Group plans to port the software to other controllers and deploy at a larger scale, while new inter-domain applications will be designed and tested. Also, the working group plans to demonstrate the technique again in November at SC13, the premier international conference for high performance computing, networking, storage and analysis.

During the Chinese American Networking Symposium 2012 in Seattle, the project to define inter-domain mechanisms and protocols, and implement interconnection of the OpenFlow networks of CERNET, CSTNET, and Internet2 was planned and announced; this demonstration is a result of the year-long collaboration.

About International Networking Group at Indiana University

About CERNET

About CSTNET

To learn more, email CTO@Internet2.edu.