ONF Prepares to Launch Atrium SDN Distribution

The Atrium 2015/A release will include software components from other open-source efforts, such as the ONOS SDN operating system.


The Open Networking Foundation is readying the first version of its software-defined networking software Atrium distribution that includes components from other open-source efforts.

The distribution, dubbed Atrium 2015/A, includes such stand-alone software-defined networking (SDN) components from other open-source efforts, such as the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), the Open Network Operating System (ONOS) and the Open Compute Project (OCP). Open Networking Foundation (ONF) officials said including these components into Atrium 2015/A will help make its SDN distribution easier to embrace and will help accelerate the overall adoption of the networking technology among network operators.

"We designed Atrium to facilitate the adoption of open SDN by the networking industry by integrating established open-source SDN software with some critical connecting pieces, and building on software from many developers that has been developed within an open environment," ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt wrote in a post on the group's blog. "This open setting ensures that the software is thoroughly tested by the community, helps network operators to build custom solutions with greater ease, allows vendors to take advantage of common building blocks, and reduces development costs while improving interoperability."

Atrium 2015/A, which will be available as a download from ONF's GitHub repository, is the latest release by an industry consortium of open-source software for SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV), both disruptive technologies that are rapidly changing how service providers and enterprises are building their networks.

ONOS, which is being directed by the Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) and is backed by such companies as Intel, Fujitsu, AT&T and NTT Communications, on June 3 released the third version of its open-source SDN operating system, named "Cardinal." Enhancements in Cardinal focus on such areas as Application Intent Framework, southbound interfaces and distributed core features, according to officials.

Days later, the Open Project for NFV (OPNFV) unveiled "Arno," the first release of the consortium's open-source NFV software. OPNFV is looking to accelerate the adoption of NFV among network operators, and Arno gives developers and users a framework for testing their NFV efforts, investigating use cases and trying out virtual network functions (VNFs).

ONF officials said the group has been supportive of other open-source efforts, saying such initiatives help them toward the goal of broad adoption of SDN. SDN and NFV remove the control plane and networking tasks from underlying hardware and put them into software, creating a more scalable, automated and programmable network that can more easily adapt to changing demands in the data center.

The software components from other groups run in either controllers or switches, and communicate using the OpenFlow protocol, according to ONF officials. They also include plug-in opportunities for other switching technologies in the hope of creating a broad ecosystem of interoperable switches based on OpenFlow.

Among the components being used is the Quagga BGP for routing, which is one of the reasons why Atrium 2015/A is being built atop ONOS. Quagga runs on ONOS, and ON.Lab engineers assisted with the integration work. In addition, ONF officials wanted to take advantage of the scalability and performance of ONOS.

ONF members also are porting Atrium to OpenDaylight, a vendor-based group that is developing an open framework for SDN and NFV. Atrium with OpenDaylight support will be released later this year, and ONF officials want to take advantage of its wide industry support and access to a range of use cases in such areas as NFV, campus networking and the data center.

OCP, led by Facebook, is a key driver of open-source hardware.

"We have adopted an extensible architecture so that adding features and a variety of forwarding planes will follow easily," Saurav Das, principal system architect at ONF, said in a statement. "With community contribution, this platform should evolve even more rapidly."

When Atrium 2015/A becomes available at the end of June, it will come with such collateral as documentation for installation, configuration and operation, a snapshot of ONOS that is verified to work with the white-box software stack and other vendor switches, and a collection of OpenFlow v1.3 device drivers in ONOS.