Software Defined Networking (SDN) is changing the way companies develop solutions for data center and network infrastructure. The separation of control plane and data plane in SDN forces developers to use a more modular approach to system and software development. Open standards defined for SDN such as OpenFlow and OpenStack allow service providers and equipment manufacturers to use systems and building blocks from different suppliers. The challenge is finding the right building blocks to minimize time to market, ensure interoperability and maximize system performance.


In this blog I am going to explore the benefits of using the Wind River Open Network Software (ONS). ONS is a comprehensive switch software environment for developing data center and network infrastructure solutions that support SDN. Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance. The 250-plus members of the Alliance collaborate closely with Intel® to create hardware, software, tools, and services to help speed intelligent systems  to market.


The Importance of SDN


SDN makes the network simpler and easier to manage by separating the data plane and control plane functions. This separation together with the use of open interfaces allows carriers and service providers to source network elements from a variety of vendors or a single vendor as they prefer. This gives carriers and service providers opportunities to manage costs and deliver new services.


SDN switches and other data plane systems route packets using a flow table. The flow tables are managed by controllers that communicate with the switches through a secure channel defined by the OpenFlow protocol. The controllers can be managed by a centralized orchestrator through a cloud operating system such as OpenStack that controls large pools of networking, storage and compute.


Wind River Open Network Software (ONS)


The Wind River Open Network Software (ONS) is a complete network switch software environment to deliver highly optimized control plane software for SDN solutions including top of rack switches, micro server platforms and network infrastructure elements. Wind River ONS is available with extensive support including professional services to develop customer specific hardware and run-time solutions.


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Figure 1. Wind River Open Network Software (ONS).


The Wind River ONS is a modular design as shown in figure 1. The four main blocks cover L1, L2, L3 and open switch functionality. Below are the ONS core services and switch adapter API, above are the data base services, object model and management API. The Wind River ONS supports a range of network protocols including OSPF, BGP, Spanning Tree, Link Aggregation (LAG) and BGP as well as access lists and advanced tunneling. The solution supports OpenFlow and OpenStack for SDN implementations.


The ONS object model is defined in an XML descriptive language and the database covers every element that management API needs to access. The management API supports XML-RPC, SNMP and other management applications. The Wind River application development kit (ADK) allows engineers to develop additional applications such as MPLS.  The ADK includes the development environment and tools, libraries, sample code and documentation.


The switch adapter API connects the ONS core services through a switch adapter to either the switch silicon or the SimSwitch hardware simulator. The switch adapter block is specific to the physical switch silicon being used. Wind River will supply source code or run-time code for a number of different hardware platforms including the Intel Seacliff Trail reference platform. Support for additional platforms is available through Wind River professional services. The SimSwitch hardware simulator allows developers to build the system software before the switch hardware is available.


Intel Seacliff Trail Reference Platform


Wind River ONS has been ported to 10 different hardware platforms including the Intel Seacliff Trail Reference Platform show in Figure 2. The reference platform includes an Intel® Ethernet Switch FM6700 device dual power supplies and AMC module. The Intel Ethernet Switch FM6700 device integrates a FlexPipe frame processor that is used to support SDN applications. The device will support up to 4000 OpenFlow 12–tuple table entries. The FlexPipe frame processor is programmed through the ONS Switch Adapter.


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Figure 2. Intel Seacliff Trail Reference Platform


The Seacliff Trail Reference Platform AMC slot has a single AMC module with Intel® Xeon® processor E3-1105C and Intel® Communications Chipset 89xx Series. The Intel Xeon processor E3-1105C has four 1GHz hyperthreaded 64-bit cores that run the Wind River ONS software.


Building Blocks for SDN

The Wind River ONS is one of a number of building blocks that are already available for SDN. By using off-the-shelf solutions that are designed to support open Interfaces and protocols and taking advantage of hardware reference platforms such as Sea Cliff Trail developers can quickly bring new systems to market that support SDN. The shift towards SDN is accelerating driven on by the use of open interfaces and the widespread support from both service providers and equipment manufacturers.


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Wind River Systems is an Associate member of the Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance.


Simon Stanley

Roving Reporter (Intel® Contractor), Intel® Intelligent Systems Alliance

Principal Consultant, Earlswood Marketing

Follow me on Twitter: @simon_stanley