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AppFest 2016. Testing at UNH-IOL

May 25, 2016

Rick Bauer provides a recap of the recent ONF AppFest at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab in this two part series. 

We just returned from the second annual ONF AppFest, sponsored by the ONF Testing & Interoperability Working Group and the ONF Testing Leadership Council. In our next post, we’ll cover a similar event hosted by Beijing Internet Institute (BII) in Beijing—another ONF testing event (too much to cover these days!) The North American event was held at the brand-new University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL) in scenic Durham, New Hampshire. Last week, ONF member companies, students, and other participants gathered to test their software against several OpenFlow switch environments, against an assortment of SDN controllers, with a variety of purposes. Some tested for protocol conformance with the OpenFlow 1.3 specification; others tested for functionality against a series of software controllers (ONOS, OpenDaylight, Ryu, etc.); still others wanted insight on ways that they could optimize the performance of their software by utilizing ONF’s set of performance benchmarking tools, currently in development.

UNH IOL is housed in a beautiful facility bordering the campus, and has three floors of new dormitories as well. Students who work alongside their Computer Science professors don’t have far to walk to get to their jobs at UNH-IOL.
Figure 1. UNH-IOL is housed in a beautiful facility bordering the campus, and has three floors of new dormitories as well. Students who work alongside their Computer Science professors don’t have far to walk to get to their jobs at UNH-IOL.

Upon arriving at UNH-IOL, we quickly discovered that the facility might be the best AppFest environment we have ever found! The nearly 50 AppFest attendees had a fantastic event. New participant and ONF member Brain4Net was thoroughly pleased in that they were able to test against various hardware platforms and switches. Alexander Rumyankov, chief product officer at Brain4Net said, “First of all, thanks a lot for such good event organization. I’ve never seen such a well-equipped place, which allowed us to quickly interconnect with other participants and saved a lot of time on use case testing. And we could work and eat at the same time!”

Following on that comment was Spirent’s Ralph Daniels, who praised the setup and facilities as well. He said, “All this table space, lab equipment, connectivity, and they let us eat in the lab.” Apparently, engineers like to eat (and drink coffee) while they work, and the only equipment they would ruin in the chance of a spill would be their own!

UNH-IOL is no stranger to the open computing revolution. They were recognized a few years ago by IEEE in their reception of the coveted IEEE-SA Corporate Award and the lab currently hosts events for the Open Compute Project, ONF, the Open Networking User Group (ONUG), and Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV). Our testing was performed in their spacious 27,000+ square foot facility, which houses a multi-million dollar array of test equipment and the latest devices from UNH-IOL member companies, including scores of ONF member companies.

Figure 2. Ralph Daniels and Ed Rank from Spirent, were busy last week with validating systems, providing traffic generating, and supporting all of the companies at the AppFest at UNH-IOL.

 

We were impressed by all the students who were helping out—not just delivering food and coffee, but configuring networks, testing machines, and recording results. More than 100 graduate and undergraduate student employees work with full-time UNH-IOL staff. Like our other ONF-approved SDN Testing Labs, the companies and organizations that work with UNH-IOL benefit from cost-effective testing services, as well as the opportunity to recruit future engineers from the UNH-IOL workforce. We had the fun of meeting former students who are now working for Ixia, Extreme Networks, and other SDN companies, playing the role of engineers at the AppFest.

The last formal day of the AppFest, we had what we call “Community Day”, and it was a great time. For several hours, we learned about new projects and we watched demos from some of the OpenSourceSDN.org open source software projects. The Castor Project was presented live from Australia, and led onsite by NoviFlow’s Marc LeClerc, one of the participants. Kudo’s to Vijay Sivaraman of the University of New South Wales in Australia and Craig Russell of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) for staying up way past midnight for their demo. Next we had the pleasure to host Arpit Gupta from Princeton, the project lead for the iSDX project, which is gaining traction and visibility. Already they are working with several operators and Internet exchanges around the world, and the demo was excellent.

After we had a brief review of how ONF’s open source efforts were progressing, we closed with a very compelling demo by China Mobile’s Robert Chen, who did a great job introducing a new project from a data center use case they are working on. Robert walked through a new orchestration and deployment engine, fully SDN, that allowed provisioning and management from a GUI that was intuitive and well within the reach of the average network engineer. He dragged and dropped nodes, switches, gateways, load balancers – all picked from pull-down menus featuring both hardware and software-based switches and other equipment and tools. It was as if we did not have to build a car piece-by-piece in order to drive to the store. It was encouraging to see a vision of SDN that looked far more user-friendly than I’ve seen.

We’re putting together some videos of the event which will be available on our website here. The videos include:

  • Facility Walk-Around with Dan Pitt and UNH-IOL’s Director Erica Johnson
  • Castor Demo Presentation
  • iSDX Demo Presentation
  • China Mobile Demo Presentation
  • OpenSourceSDN.org Project Report

With the second annual AppFest in the books, you would think we would be tired. Not us! We are already planning the next one – stay tuned for details on the date and location. Thank you to all the people who participated and made the week a successful one. Check back in with us for part 2 of the AppFest blog post. We look forward to seeing all of our members and open source community contributors at next year’s AppFest!

– Rick Bauer, Director of Technology Programs