Tag Archives: open ethernet

Open MLAG: The Road to the Open Ethernet Switch System

Making another step towards enabling a world of truly open Ethernet switches, Mellanox recently became the first vendor to release as open source,  implementation of Multi Chassis Link Aggregation Group, or as it is more commonly known – MLAG.

Mellanox is involved and contributes to other open source projects, such as OpenStack, ONIE, Puppet and others, and already contributed certain adaptor applications to the open source community. Mellanox is the first and only vendor to open-source its switch SDK API. Mellanox is also a leading member and contributor of the Open Compute Project, where it provides NICs, switches and software.

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The Train Has Left the Station, Open Ethernet is Happening

Authored by:   Amit Katz – Sr. Director, Product Management

Customers are tired of paying huge sums of money for Ethernet switches for no good reason. At some point, OpenFlow seemed like the way to change the networking world, but various factors such as overlay networks, changing market interests, and other unforeseen developments, it is hard to view OpenFlow today as a game-changer. While it remains a very important technology and provides a valuable mean of implementing certain functionalities, it has not created a revolution in the networking industry.

 

The real revolution that is occurring today is based on a combination of the momentum gained by the Open Compute Platform and the increasing number of switch software and hardware suppliers. Initiatives to open the switch, such as Mellanox’s Open Ethernet that was announced earlier this year, have placed us on the right path to bringing networking to where servers are today: affordable, open, and software-defined.

 

But is this revolution all about saving on cost? Not at all – cost is important but flexibility, openness, and the freedom to choose are equally important. One of the key elements in enabling vendor selection elasticity is Open Network Install Environment (ONIE), which decouples the switch hardware from its software, enabling vendors to provide something very similar to what we see in the server world: hardware without an Operating System. That means customer can buy a server with many ports and install their choice of OS on top of it. In the event that the customer wants to change the OS, the lion’s share of the investment (the hardware piece) is protected.

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Driving Innovation with OpenEthernet

Authored by: Amir Sheffer, Sr. Product Manager

For years, data center Ethernet switching equipment has been based on closed, proprietary vendor implementation, providing very limited flexibility for the user. The progress made in open source applications and software can be leveraged in Ethernet switches to create a new generation of open, flexible and customizable solutions.  

Open Source Enables New Solutions / Trends / Technologies

Open Source Enables New Solutions / Trends / Technologies

Switches based on the OpenEthernet approach will replace traditional closed-code switches and will allow data center customization for optimized and efficient operation. The OpenEthernet switch is based on functionality developed by the equipment vendor and integration with public, open cores and tools that can be freely downloaded from the internet.

As a leader of this approach, Mellanox is investing in the integration and development of such tools, which when combined, can provide complete functionality. Examples for such tools can be OpenFlow–for flow configuration; Puppet and Chef–for switch configuration, Quagga for routing protocols, etc.

Open Ethernet

Mellanox switch software runs over Linux.  Even if the Linux kernel provides good infrastructure for the switch, it lacks functionality to connect it to the switching and routing functions. For example, a routing reflector unit is required to synchronize between the Linux kernel, the routing stack and the silicon data path. For this purpose, we are developing and opening such “reflector” units to the open community.

Another example can be the hardware driver or the software development kit (SDK) application interface (API) for the switch. By opening the API to the community, we will be the first ones to enable full flexibility and ease-of implementation to our customers and we believe other will follow.

In parallel, Mellanox is participating in industry-wide groups that are taking a similar approach.  One example can be the OpenStack community, in which Mellanox is an active member. Another example for such group can be the Open Compute Project (OCP), which is defining open and standard equipment for data centers. Mellanox already builds OCP-compatible NICs and has recently contributed the hardware design documents of the SX1024 switch system to OCP.

So far, we have briefly touched several aspects of OpenEthernet. An important feature that will be explained in the coming weeks is the hardware – software separation.

 To be continued…..