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Integrating Open vSwitch management into the OpenDaylight controller

OpenDaylight will integrate Open vSwitch management protocol, OVSDB, into its controller for the ability to provision and manage virtual switches.

The OpenDaylight Project will integrate Open vSwitch management and provisioning into its controller features using the Open vSwitch Database Management Protocol.

The Open vSwitch Database Management Protocol (OVSDB) integration project is one of nearly a dozen community contributions to the open source SDN project OpenDaylight since it launched last spring. Other contributions include network virtualization technology, a flow management mapping tool, a toolset for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and an OpenFlow plug-in.

Integrating OVSDB into the OpenDaylight controller would make it easier to apply orchestration and automated provisioning and management to Open vSwitch environments, said Brent Salisbury, a network engineer and architect at the University of Kentucky, who contributed the code along with University of Kentucky student Evan Zeller. Open vSwitch technology is used in most OpenStack implementations and vendors will increasingly incorporate it into their products.

Why OVSDB in the OpenDaylight controller?

OVSDB is already a component of the Open vSwitch, supplying configuration information to the switch database server. Engineers use the protocol to determine the number of individual virtual bridges and then provision or de-provision ports and tunnels from these bridges.

So while controllers use OpenFlow to direct packet flows between switches in a software-defined network, OVSDB provisions the switch ports and the tunnels that those packets run on.

"The management piece [of vSwitches] is just as important as the forwarding control," Salisbury said. OVSDB is necessary to "provision, modify and delete" tunnels and ports -- or anything else that is typical to switch configuration.

Once OVSDB is incorporated into the OpenDaylight controller, that platform could orchestrate port and tunnel provisioning and packet flow direction in one platform. OpenStack Neutron has similar functions, so it's unclear how the two technologies will intersect or whether there will be any overlap, Salisbury said. He contributed the OVSDB component to the OpenDaylight controller to make it complement OpenStack in orchestration and provisioning, he said.

Striving for universal Open vSwitch management and provisioning

Beyond orchestration, OVSDB integration into OpenDaylight broadens the possibilities for vSwitch implementation and standardizes management across environments. The controller will be able to direct and manage any implementation of an Open vSwitch environment, regardless of vendor or orchestration strategy.

It could also bring uniformity to how OpenFlow switches are managed, Salisbury said. Users should always ask OpenFlow switch vendors what they are using for an OpenFlow management protocol, he said.

Alternative OpenFlow switch management protocols exist, including the OpenFlow Configuration and Management Protocol (OF-CONFIG) from the Open Networking Foundation, which can manage both virtual and physical switches and can reside in any OpenFlow controller, as well as within traditional network management platforms.

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