Although invisible, most governments, businesses and schools – and many homes – rely on them: networks are intrinsic to today’s internet. But the complex and rigid internetworking system leaves network administrators and users struggling to observe what happens to their traffic as it traverses the network.
Designing alternative future internet architectures has therefore become a priority in network research. At the heart of this work are open and programmable test beds, based on Software Defined Networking (SDN) principles, such as those built around the world within future internet programmes: FIRE (EU), GENI (USA) and RISE (Japan), for example.
Test bed-oriented international cooperation in SDN research creates a strong foundation for advanced, highimpact programmable network research. Cooperation gives researchers unparalleled opportunities to validate their novel network applications and solutions in world-class test beds, capitalising on resources from different administrative and geographically remote facilities. Such large-scale validations would not otherwise be possible. The EU-Japan project FELIX creates an SDN test bed federation between the partners’ key research labs.
FELIX is defining a common framework for federated SDN future internet test beds dispersed across continents (Europe and Japan in particular). Such a framework will enable users to request and obtain resources across different test bed infrastructures; manage and control the network paths that connect the federated SDN test bed infrastructures; and execute distributed applications on the federated infrastructure.
The resources available through FELIX include networking, computing and storage capacities, available at geographically dispersed facilities, under the administrative control of different but cooperating stakeholders.
The FELIX team envisages a virtual networked infrastructure, spanning multiple administrative domains, using OpenFlow control mechanisms in the local switching infrastructure. It will be coupled with WAN-based network service reservation mechanisms such as Network Services Interface (NSI).
The project has defined six specific use cases and grouped them into two major clusters (Data Domain and Infrastructure Domain) to reflect the primary application area and stakeholders. The FELIX Data Domain use cases mostly target SDN and dynamic interconnections via a network services interface (NSI). Data caching, fast delivery, streaming and related workflow management are central to these use cases:
- data on demand – delivery of distributed data by setting data flows over the network
- pre-processing and delivery of nearly real-time (satellite) data to geographically distant locations (from EU to Japan and vice versa)
- high-quality media transmission over long-distance networks.
The FELIX Infrastructure Domain use cases focus more on the efficient use of federated and dispersed FI resources (in different continents) to migrate entire workloads (VMs and data) or virtual infrastructures in a more efficient way (e.g. with energy saving targets) and enhanced features (e.g. data/service survivability in case of disasters):
- data mobility service by SDN technologies
- follow-the-sun/follow-the-moon principles
- disaster recovery by migrating IaaS to a remote data centre.
The FELIX team is currently working on the architectural foundation and software tools needed to implement these use cases. Preliminary demonstrations are expected for 2014.