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What I Took Away from the 2018 Openstack Vancouver Summit

From May 21st to 24th of 2018 the OpenStack Summit was held at the beautiful, world class Vancouver Conference Center. Several IDX colleagues and I attended the conference, not only to take in talks by others but also to present research of our own. We were also fortunate to participate in the Edge mini-keynote on the 3rd day of the conference. The OpenStack summit presents a diverse and collegial atmosphere and I highly recommend attending.

I thought it would be useful to take a few minutes and list out some highlights of the conference. I should note that because IDX as an organization is heavily, but not singularly, focused on NFV, so too are what we consider the highlights of the summit.

Network Slicing

My favorite area to work in is new technologies and ideas that aren’t yet well solidified or codified. Currently, and perhaps only for a brief time, the concept Network Slicing fits perfectly into this realm. At the summit fellow IDXer Corey Erickson and I presented on the topic of 5G Network Slicing and OpenStack.

In our presentation we attempted to assimilate tens of papers, academic or otherwise, which define Network Slicing in order to understand potential requirements. Then we mapped those requirements to existing OpenStack features and functionality, and finally tried to determine a few routes that OpenStack could take in terms of participating in a 5G Network Slice. Overall the presentation was well received, and we hope that Network Slicing continues to play a large role in the success of 5G.

ONAP, Orchestration and Automation

At IDX we tend to consider NFV as being made up of four major technological pillars:

  1. VIM/NFVi (often represented by OpenStack),
  2. “software-ization” of the network (be it SDN or otherwise),
  3. automation/orchestration (e.g. ETSI MANO),
  4. and finally the development work of building, packaging, and deploying network services.

These are all challenging and complex technologies. Currently the automation and orchestration pillar is exemplified by the Orchestration and Network Automation Platform, abbreviated as ONAP.

Prior to the OpenStack summit I attended the Open Networking Summit in Los Angeles. At that conference, ONAP was mentioned in nearly every session. While it was not as ubiquitous at the OpenStack summit, for good reason, it was certainly well represented, especially in a session entitled “Artificial Intelligence driven Orchestration, Challenges and Opportunities” by TELUS researcher Sana Tariq.

As a note, ETSI also recently released version four of their open source MANO system, OSM.

Edge Networking with MPLS

My colleague Rahul Kumar and I gave a presentation on “Integration of Multiple OpenStack Cloud with a Core MPLS Network.” It’s a tricky topic because MPLS has been around for decades, long enough for people to form strong opinions on it. Also, with the recent rise of SD-WAN, confusion has set in around the difference between being provided a customer endpoint that is eventually part of an MPLS network, and actually running a MPLS core. Further, many, including myself, also believe that MPLS is a paradigm, not just an implementation. Interpretations of MPLS often depend on perspective, even in technical implementations.

The key focus of our presentation was what methodologies exist to connect multiple OpenStack clouds together across an MPLS core. To discuss this we first had to talk about technologies like Neutron Dynamic Routing (NDR), which, while not directly related to MPLS, leads into other models. After NDR, we discussed neutron-bgpvpn with the networking-bagpipe driver. There were also two other related sessions at the summit which I highly recommend watching: “Neutron BGPVPN for Edge Networking” and “Flexible NFV WAN interconnections with Neutron BGP VPN.”

Summit Attendance and the State of OpenStack

Three years ago I attended the same summit at the same location. Attendance was much higher in 2015, I believe more like six or seven thousand. However, there are a couple of good reasons for that number: 1) developers now (mostly) attend another conference called the Projects Team Gather (PTG) and 2) OpenStack is maturing, and in fact many of the attendees are new to OpenStack. RedMonk has a good article summarizing the state of OpenStack.