If you are a cloud service provider or large enterprise planning to deploy and operate a large-scale public or private cloud using OpenStack, you need to understand why Nicira’s Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) is the virtual networking platform used by the largest OpenStack deployments.
OpenStack is a global collaboration of cloud computing technologists producing the ubiquitous open source cloud computing platform for public and private clouds. OpenStack is often positioned as the alternative to proprietary approaches and has quickly established itself as the cloud solution for market leaders. A powerful combination of broad industry support, rich feature set and full-scale production deployments has put OpenStack at the forefront of the transformation to cloud.
OpenStack Networking – Quantum
OpenStack Quantum provides network connectivity-as-a-service. It exposes a tenant-facing, extensible API, that allows users to programmatically provision and operate their cloud network infrastructure. Quantum offers a plug-in architecture designed to provide a core set of features and expose unique functionality of the underlying network technology through vendor specific plug-ins and API extensions.
OpenStack Quantum Plugins
The role of a Quantum plug-in is to translate network change requests received from the Quantum Service API and map them to specific operations on the underlying network system. The Quantum API is extensible, allowing plug-ins to introduce new logical network abstractions, for example, to provide more advanced network services, such as, security or QoS policies. API extensions provide an avenue for solution differentiation, exposing innovative features and capabilities of the network infrastructure controlled by the plug-in. A plug-in may be open source or distributed commercially, and may be specific to a single type of network infrastructure, or work across many different types of networks.
Several Quantum plug-ins are available today, however, while all plug-ins utilize the same basic API, it’s the unique features and capabilities of the underlying network infrastructure that truly differentiates one solution from the another. For example, Nicira’s NVP plug-in provides a network hardware independent solution, while a Cisco plug-in only works with specific Cisco UCS and Nexus switches.
Nicira Network Virtualization Platform - The Network for OpenStack
Nicira has taken full advantage of the ability to extend the Quantum API to expose many of the advanced features offered by the Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP). NVP enables the dynamic creation of virtual network infrastructure and services, completely decoupled and independent from physical network hardware.
Some of the key benefits of NVP as the underlying network for production scale data centers are:
Virtually unlimited private networks per tenant — No VLANs
Continuous high availability, including distributed active-active failover clustering
Network hardware independence
Data center interconnect, allows virtual networks to span data centers and availability zones
Network service programmability and automation, at cloud scale
Operational tools built for large-scale, production OpenStack clouds
The Nicira OpenStack Quantum Plug-in
Nicira initiated and leads the Quantum project team within the OpenStack community, and while the Quantum plug-in architecture has been designed to deliver an open, vendor independent interface, the Nicira NVP plug-in has been designed to tightly integrate OpenStack with NVP. The NVP Quantum plug-in is the network solution being used by leading OpenStack deployments and is differentiated in many ways including:
The most significant validation of the features and capabilities offered by combining Nicira’s NVP with OpenStack is evident in the size and scope of the production deployments using NVP. These deployments range in size from thousands to hundreds of thousands of VMs. NVP takes virtual networking out of the lab and into large scale production clouds.
Focus on Operations and Quality Assurance
Two major benefits that come as a result of Nicira’s production deployments are operational readiness and quality. Nicira developers have not only delivered advanced networking features, but have focused on robust operational readiness, delivering core features including logging, integration with third-party logging solutions NVP Manager, monitoring and troubleshooting tools and a zero-downtime upgrade process. Nicira has an extensive quality assurance regiment which includes testing with the OpenStack CMS and the Quantum NVP plug-in.
Open vSwitch, a key element of the NVP system, is the default hypervisor vswitch for Xen, Xen Server, KVM and has been upstreamed into the Linux core. NVP provides integration with VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V, as well as, support for physical, non-virtualized workloads. Nicira NVP operates as an overlay, completely independent of the underlying network hardware, providing customers the flexibility to utilize the existing physical network without changing anything, or migrate to a next generation hardware design and fabric architecture from any vendor.
Advanced Networking Features and API Extensions
Nicira NVP delivers a highly scalable, secure, Distributed Virtual Network Infrastructure (DVNI) and the OpenStack Quantum NVP plug-in allows customers building OpenStack solutions to take full advantage of the benefits a DVNI architecture. Going beyond the ability to programmatically provision and control L2 and L3 virtual networks, the NVP plug-in supports virtual port isolation, virtual port mirroring, QoS, security profiles and detailed per-port statistics.