ONOS Project Unveils Second Release of Open SDN Platform

The Blackbird release not only aims to ensure high availability and scalability, but also offers performance metrics.


The ONOS Project, which rolled out the first release of its open-source software-defined network operating system in December 2014, is unveiling the second release with an eye toward enabling users to better measure their network environments.

The latest release of the Open Network Operating System (ONOS)—dubbed Blackbird—includes a set of metrics for evaluating the capabilities of the software-defined networking (SDN) control plane platforms and controllers. In addition, the metrics enable users to then publicly publish the performance results of their Blackbird releases.

ONOS Project officials want users to apply these metrics to their use of Blackbird to validate the performance, scalability and high availability of the SDN platform.

"As service providers start deploying SDN solutions not only in their labs but also to control and manage their carrier-scale networks, high performance, scalability and resilience become key architectural requirements for these solutions," Prajakta Joshi, director of products for the ONOS Project, said in a statement. "Carrier-grade SDN platforms and solutions need to demonstrate these attributes and measure and qualify them with effective metrics."

The ONOS Project was introduced in November 2014 by the Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab), a nonprofit group led by some of the earliest developers of SDN technologies. Among ONOS' members are Cisco Systems, AT&T, Ericsson, Intel and Huawei Technologies.

The group is one of several open-source efforts around SDN and network-functions virtualization. Consortiums like the OpenDaylight Project, Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) are working on open frameworks for the networking technologies in hopes of accelerating adoption. In addition, some smaller vendors like Midokura are open-sourcing their network virtualization technology.

At the time it was introduced, ONOS officials said the operating system was being designed to let users leverage the legacy infrastructure in their data centers while they begin mapping out a migration plan to SDN. According to ONOS Group officials, the operating system is a control plane that is distributed but logically centralized, which leads to its high performance and scale-out capabilities. It also helps with high availability, including the ability to fully recover from failures in the switch, links, entire ONOS and single-node clusters and device-node communications.

It's been difficult for other open-source SDN platforms to ensure the necessary high availability and scale without impinging on the performance, according to Guru Parulkar, executive director of ON.Lab. This has hindered adoption of SDN, he said.

"Architected as a distributed system, ONOS is the first open source SDN solution to achieve linear scale-out while maintaining high performance and availability," Parulkar said in a statement. "As the size of your network grows, ONOS instances can be added to scale the SDN control plane, and seamlessly deliver the needed throughput. This ability not only breaks down barriers to real-world deployment but also future-proofs your network."

Control plane scalability is achieved by adding capacity, while for high availability, the goal of ONOS is to hit a million flow operations per second and less than 100 milliseconds of latency. At the same time, Blackbird is designed to give organizations a more accurate view of the SDN control plane capabilities than current metrics, such as Cbench, officials said. Performance metrics in the operating system touch on topology, northbound traffic and flow operations throughput, they said.