SDN Takes Manhattan: IBM’s new live migration demo
From the Muppets to the Weeping Angels, many have tried to take Manhattan by storm in TV and film. This past month, IBM had an opportunity when we unveiled a new demo showcasing the power of software defined networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for both data centers and telecommunication providers.
This demo is the latest work from IBM’s collaboration with the New York State Center for Cloud Computing & Analytics at Marist College. Established earlier this year with a $3 M grant from the governor of New York, this center supports a wide range of projects which benefit businesses in New York State. One of these projects, sponsored in part by IBM’s university relations group and by other business partners including Adva Optical Networking, is the SDN / NFV test bed, located in the brand new Hancock Building on the Marist campus. This data center houses many different types of IBM servers, storage, and system networking devices (including IBM PureSystems and IBM G8264 switches), as well as optical wide area networking equipment from Adva (the FSP 3000 platform). This environment was used to develop a new, first of its kind deployment of SDN across multiple data centers separated by 125 km of optical fiber, in which the optical WAN equipment is also orchestrated by the same SDN controller. While current SDN standards only support Layer 2-3, there is an effort under way to standardize OpenFlow down to the physical layer, which is expected to make significant progress in 2014.
The Marist college faculty and students did an outstanding job writing several new applications for this environment, including an open source management graphical user interface called Avior, which controls OpenFlow devices from a mobile device such as a tablet or smart phone. Avior allows us to monitor network statistics, configure traffic flows, and administer firewall or load balancer properties, without requiring the network administrator to write complex Python code scripts. Avior incorporates a static flow pusher which can deploy pre-configured network profiles or schedule network configuration events for touch-free provisioning. A second application developed specifically for the Adva optical network (which the students have named Advalanche) is called by Avior to orchestrate the WDM equipment. We use the open source application Ganglia to monitor events such as server utilization or available memory; when a preset threshold is exceeded, Ganglia executes an action such as provisioning a network profile, migrating a VM, or cloning a VM. The SDN controller runs OpenFlow 1.0, and can be either the IBM PNC controller or an open source controller such as Floodlight (we plan to introduce Open Daylight into the test bed when it becomes publicly available this coming December).
In this demo, we demonstrated automatically triggering live VM migration (moving a VM while it continues to run uninterrupted) if the CPU utilization on the host server exceeded 75%. In this example, the VM was running a video streaming application, but in principle we could use any NFV application, such as a virtual firewall, router, or telecom function. Possible use cases for this function include multi-site load balancing, or cloud bursting between a private data center and a public cloud; this work may also have applications to the so-called “noisy neighbor” problem in public cloud deployments. Since network costs can be a significant fraction of the total cost for cloud computing services, this approach can also be used to provision dynamic workloads and improve utilization of the data networks.
When over-utilization of the server occurs, Ganglia triggers a VM migration. The SDN controller automatically provisions all the switches in the source and target data center, as well as wavelengths on the optical network (subject to available physical resources and workload priority levels). End-to-end network provisioning can be accomplished in about a minute, as compared with current approaches which can take days or weeks since they require manual intervention to configure both the data center network and the WAN. VMWare is then used to live migrate the VM from a server in the source data center to another server in the target data center (in the future we plan to use other hypervisors including KVM and PowerVM). As usual, migration time is a function of the size of the VM and the available network bandwidth; in our example, a 3 GByte VM live migrates in a few minutes (we have partnerships with other colleges in New York State which are developing models for VM migration time). Once migration is complete, the SDN controller reverts all the network devices to their original states, including the WAN.
This demo was presented for the first time at the Adva North America Technology Symposium, held just off Broadway in New York City on September 12. The response has been overwhelming; since we’ve taken Manhattan, we’ve gone on to showcase this work worldwide, ranging from major service providers who’ve come to visit Marist College to remove demos for interested people in Japan and Bratislava. If you happen to be near Frankfurt, Germany the week of October 15, stop by the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress to see Prof. Rob Cannistra from Marist presenting the demo (and don’t forget to visit the IBM and Adva presentations while you’re there).
Projects like this one demonstrate the disruptive effect SDN and NFV are having on the global market, and this is only the beginning. Now that we’ve started spreading the news about SDN in New York, I’ll keep you posted on our latest SDN research and other developments. You cal also read more about SDN and cloud computing in the recently released, 4th edition of my book, the Handbook of Fiber Optic Data Communication from Academic Press/Elsevier. If you know anyone who’d like to see this demo, or any companies / universities who would like to collaborate with the Marist lab, please drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a message on Twitter (@Dr_Casimer).