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OpenFlow Campus Trials at Indiana University

Report for Period ending GEC13

Christopher Small – Principal Investigator
Matthew Davy – Co-Principal Investigator
Dave Jent – Co-Principal Investigator


  • FlowScale production deployment in Bloomington
  • RouteFlow experiment deployment and demonstration at the Internet2 Joint Techs conference
  • XSP experimentation
  • Internet2 ProtoGENI cluster integrated with OpenFlow
  • Management and measurement software deployed for IU Production controller
  • Topology discovery work
  • Training and outreach activities

Major Accomplishments

Milestones achieved

S4.a Complete on-campus experimental and production deployment plans for Spiral 4: The on-campus and production deployment plans are complete. A summary of the [Attachment:spiral4_deploy plan.pdf, deployment plan] is posted on this wiki.

Most of the deployment has already been deployed including:

  • Production switches in multiple buildings deployed using a commercial controller
  • Experimental testbed with Planetlab, ProtoGENI and GpENI connection
  • Production deployment of the FlowScale load balancer system deployed to serve the IU IDS system
  • Experiment testbed constructed to host Layer 3 experimentation using RouteFlow

Steps that still need to take before the end of Spiral 4:

  • Additional switches in the testlab available through GENI
  • Additional FlowScale deployment to cover the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis
  • Tools to help in the troubleshooting of OpenFlow networks and contollers

IU OpenFlow Diagram

Deliverables made

FlowScale The FlowScale load balancer has been deployed in production and released to the public under an Apache 2.0 licence. FlowScale replicates the functionality in load balancing​ appliances but using a Top of Rack (ToR) switch to distribute traffic. Using software to handle the control plane specification but switch hardware to do the forwarding gives both great flexibility and allows for low cost, high throughput deployments. It also allows innovation in the selection and routing of traffic and a building block service that can be integrated with other systems.

Details on the goals, design, support and links to the source code are located at

Description of Work Performed

RouteFlow experiment deployment: We have constructed a specialized testbed to conduct RouteFlow experiments. The first testbed consisted of 4 virtual routers running on a Pronto OpenFlow switch. We have expanded the experiment to include multiple physical switches and a simulation of a realistic topology of a wide area backbone network.

We would like to deploy the RouteFlow experiment onto the GENI framework. Unfortunately the experiment needs functions (layer 2 rewrite) that is not available on the GENI Mesoscale switches deployed on Internet2 and NLR. We currently have deployed this experiment on a dedicated infrastructure at Indiana University/ We will simulate a wide area deployment on the RouteFlow experiment deployment at the Open Networking Summit with CPqD in April but are exploring mechanisms to allow this experiment to be deployed to a wide area backbone infrastructure in the future on Internet2 infrastructure. Part of the RouteFlow goal is not only to test the RouteFlow experiment itself but provide a framework for additional experimentation to be added to the Layer 3 basics. Experiments in therms of routing protocol and security improvements should be very easily added to a RouteFlow network as the control plane is entirely managed by open source software.

We have demonstrated the RouteFlow deployment and additional software to enable network management functions to be conducted on SDN based Layer 3 networks simply and reliably. The RouteFlow web based UI allows for the creation of peerings and other administrative functions not by configuring individual devices but by managing the network as a whole.

XSP experimentation: We have continued work on the integration of the eXtensible Session Protocol (XSP) and OpenFlow configurations. At SC11 we demonstrated using an OpenFlow network in concert with XSP to direct extremely large flows to additional paths when the application traffic was causing congestion. The demonstration showed a 100Gb/sec link under congestion from Lustre and GridFTP traffic load. XSP used OpenFlow switches in the path to direct traffic over a dynamically constructed 10G/sec path using application based session information to detect the congestion and determine the appropriate way to resolve the problem.

Internet2 ProtoGENI cluster integrated with OpenFlow: Issues with the cross-campus connection and IP addressing to allow access to the ProtoGENI cluster at Indiana university has been resolved. It also now allows a dedicated Layer 2 path without any tunneling to be used between the IUPUI and Bloomington university campuses.

Management and measurement software deployed for IU Production controller: In the management of the IU production controller we have encountered issues with detection of controller errors and mechanisms to restore service gracefully when these problems have occurs. John Maylor has been working on building software to detect controller errors, notify the appropriate network engineering staff and provide automatic remediation of problems. Troubleshooting tools to allow for easier analysis and logging of detected issues is also being developed.

Topology discovery work: One of the desires given in operating the InCNTRE SDN InterOperation lab is for the easy and clear wat to detect topology and present the information to the operator. While mechanisms are built into FlowVisor and NoX supplies a topology discovery function discovering topology is not easily presented to the experimenter or operator. Many applications, for example the OE-SS software used in the Internet2 OS3E service, have implemented topology discovery at the application layer. If topology could be made available to operators and experimenters it would simplify the troubleshooting for operators and make it clearer for experimenters to understand the substrate they are deploying their experiment on.

We are working on taking some of the desired tools for the InterOp lab and use development previous done in the measurement manager, OE-SS code and UNIS topology representations from the GEMINI project to develop a way to visualise the topology of a campus or the entire Mesoscale OpenFlow infrastructure.

Project Participants

During this time, key participants in the OpenFlow campus trial included:

  • Chris Small, PI
  • Matt Davy, Co-PI
  • Ahmed El-Hassany
  • Ali Khalfan
  • John Meylor
  • Jason Muller
  • Ron Milford
  • Martin Swany
  • Steve Wallace


Publications & Documents

Small, C, RouteFlow: Layer 3 with OpenFlow switches slides, Winter 2012 Internet2 Joint Tech Conference

Small, C, RouteFlow: Layer 3 with OpenFlow switches presentation, Winter 2012 Internet2 Joint Tech Conference

Davy, M. Wallace, S. OpenFlow Tutorial , Winter 2012 Internet2 Joint Tech Conference

Outreach and other related activities

The Summer of Networking at Indiana University, an internship program has been announced.

Summer of Networking students receive ten weeks of intensive instruction from IU's acclaimed network engineering staff, gaining real-life experience in fields such as network engineering, software development, network security, and networking research. They also:

  • Work alongside the foremost minds in networking and research computing
  • Create and troubleshoot networks based on real-world case studies
  • Build professional and collaborative skills
  • Participate in training seminars and workshops
  • Develop projects with one of several technology units, including the GlobalNOC

InCNTRE conducted a full day OpenFlow Tutorial at the Internet2 Joint Techs conference in Baton Rouge, LA. This presentation was geared towards network administrators presenting some of the lessions learbned durring IU OpenFlow network deployment and providing advice to campus engineers to help them deploy OpenFlow networks and connect to GENI.

The presentations and materials for the workshop are available at:

Conducted a seminar on the Security implications of SDN and OpenFlow networks during the RSA conference in San Francisco. This presentation highlighted some of the experimentation done at IU. Referenced in an Open Networking Foundation Blog post

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