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Project Stratum – 3 Big Things

May 29, 2018

Project Stratum: 3 Big Things

Today the project members of Stratum met in an all-day workshop, marking the next major step in the progression of this innovative new project.  Back in March, the ONF, with help from Google and more than a dozen member companies, announced Project Stratum: a progressive and open switch operating system supporting next generation SDN.

Stratum helps advance SDN in many ways. At the top level it provides much greater velocity of innovations with lower costs (as commonly associated with open source projects, such as ONF’s CORD).  SDN is all about separating the control and data plane, and enabling innovation, and more precisely: providing a well-defined contract between Data Plane and the Control Plane for on the box and off box control plane, management and orchestration functions.

Stratum consists of a next-generation data plane, with support for the full lifecycle of management and control capabilities. Stratum is open source, and will be available on an array of white box options featuring silicon from different vendors.

Members will support Stratum via translation layers in SDKs and APIs.  Stratum features at its heart a software tool chain that enables dynamic negotiation between the Network OS (NOS) and the data plane so that deployments can be upgraded in lock step at runtime by developers.

The 3 big things for Stratum are:

1) Creating a well-defined pipeline contract

2) Achieving data plane protocol independence

3) Gaining improved transport from a technical and velocity perspective.

The benefits are many…  Stratum will speed operator adoption of each new generation of switching silicon (regardless of whether it is fixed, partial or fully programmable). It will empower a supply chain of white box switching options, including companies like Delta, Edgecore, Inventec and QCT) with a complete open source software solution, thus providing a diversity of choice for operators. Stratum is positioned as an open source solution for fully-programmable data planes.

P4 technology will enable Stratum to completely redefine the forwarding behavior.  In the next installment, we will talk about OpenConfig models and interfaces (gNMI and gNOI) for config, management, telemetry and ops.

– Brian O’Connor, ONF’s Technical Lead for Stratum