Open Network for OpenStack


Mellanox Technologies been a part of the OpenStack community for a very long time.  You might ask: Why is a Networking company that delivers physical network components so involved in a software oriented project?

I often see Hyperconverged Infrastructure vendors talking about the scale-out concept, which is a fantastic model since it describes the very simple paradigm of a “pay as you grow” process – you can start small with a few compute/storage nodes and keep growing according to your needs.

But what about the network? Can it be static and monotonic? Obviously, the answer is the network needs to evolve and grow at the pace of the other components.

I see a similar analogy when it comes to Openstack, an open source project that defines the Cloud infrastructure; can the network be closed and locking in the Openstack environment? Does this contradict the ‘openness’ idiom?

For me, Openstack infrastructure must run together with Open Networking

What does it mean?

  • Switches that that are not locking anything, not features, not cables, not other switches and offers the choice of an operating system and the choice of network applications.
  • Is this a Linux environment or not? Switches needs to offer the Linux benefits together with the traditional management APIs.
  • Orchestration and automation that can cover not only the host side but also the network part.
  • Network Cards that are embedded in the compute and storage can be part of the Openstack echo systems and not be a burden on the operations.
  • Network that boosts performance without adding additional load to the CPUs.
  • Network offload and acceleration capabilities that are fully integrated into the Openstack projects – Inbox solutions.

Here is an example for a common use case:

  • VxLAN Overlay in an Openstack environment.
  • The network is required to provide VTEP. In other words, encapsulation and de-capsulation of the VxLAN packet. This can be done by the Top of Rack Switch or by the hypervisor.
  • With a controller (can be Neutron as a controller or a third party application such as Midonet, Nuage, Plumgrid, etc…) oOr without a controller by using EVPN

What are the benefits of using open networking?


  • Mellanox Spectrum™ switches are fully open, no locking of cables or features. All features are available including IP unnumbered BGP for the underlay and VTEP for the overlay, with controller integrations or EVPN.

The switch can run the operating system of your choice, it can be Cumulus Linux.

  • Cumulus Linux is a Debian Jessie-based networking focused distribution of Linux that runs on switch hardware, and enables a fully Linux based OpenStack deployment
  • Ansyble, puppet, Saltstack, Chef and other automation tools can naturally manage the switch like a server with NetDevOps.
  • Mellanox ConnectX®-5 network cards offer VxLAN offload and ASAP² (OVS Offload). This reduces the CPU usage because with the Mellanox cards, network operation is been handled by the Network Card and not by the CPUs.
  • Mellanox Spectrum switches and ConnectX5 network interface cards come in all high speed Ethernet speeds, including 10/25/40/50/100GbE, with no compromise on performance.

Supporting Resources

About Avi Alkobi

Avi Alkobi is Ethernet Technical Marketing manager for EMEA in Mellanox Technologies. For the past 8 years he has worked at Mellanox in various roles focusing on the Ethernet switch product line, first as a SW developer, then as a team leader of the infrastructure team responsible for the first Ethernet switch management infrastructure. More recently, he has worked as a senior application engineer supporting the field on post sales, pre sales and complex proof of concepts for E2E Ethernet and InfiniBand solutions. Before coming to Mellanox, he worked for five years at Comverse Technology and prior to this, in the Israeli security industry as a software developer. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and M.B.A from the Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

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