Corsa, ESnet, REANNZ demo first trans-Pacific SDN BGP multi-AS network

Corsa Technology, ESnet, and REANNZ have successfully demonstrated the first international SDN-only IP transit network of three Autonomous Systems (AS) managed as SDN domains.  The partners took the approach of building and testing an Internet-scale SDN solution that not only embodies the SDN vision of separation of control and data, but enables seamless integration of SDN networks with the Internet.

This first implementation passed through 3 AS domains, namely Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) at Berkeley, REANNZ atWellington, and Google research deployment at Victoria University, Wellington (NZ).  ESnet's node used the Corsa DP6420 640Gbps data plane as the OpenFlow hardware packet forwarder, controlled by the open-source VANDERVECKEN SDN controller stack (based on RouteFlow and Quagga). This demonstration forms part of a project codenamed 'Treehouse' that aims to build a worldwide group of SDN islands interconnected by a SDN-BGP routing stack and controller.  VANDERVECKEN is designed to be multi-vendor compatible for use with commercially available OpenFlow switches.

The Research and Education network infrastructure from CENIC/PacificWave and AARNet provided the data transport functions to connect these AS's together.  This SDN BGP connection between two national-scale network providers shows the potential for a full internet-scale routing to be successfully set up over an international network of mixed SDN and non-SDN autonomous systems. It marks significant progress in helping to broaden Software Defined Networking Exchange (SDX) deployments in real, operational networks.

"The Corsa DP6420 data plane has a full internet scale SDN BGP pipeline.  The SDN autonomous system connectivity we achieved leverages this pipeline that was designed to have massive FIB table capacity in a highly efficient, multi-table configuration." said Corsa Technology CEO Bruce Gregory.  "This connection also takes SDN implementations to a new level, showing how one SDN node can communicate via non-SDN nodes to another SDN node, and still have all the SDN goodness leveraged at the end-points."

"We take the existence of routing and IP for granted, since it is all around us. Once you adopt a SDN approach to building networks – i.e. fully embrace the separation of control plane from the data plane, policy-based IP routing, multi-domain peering and interoperation in an SDN environment needs to be solved." said ESnet CTO Inter Monga. "This production multi-domain SDN BGP pipeline, with a scalable OpenFlow data plane like Corsa, is an important proof point and gives us valuable experience on how to make SDN islands part of current network architectures. We would like more networks and campuses to join this effort, and share the experiences gained with the larger community."

"Establishing an end-to-end SDN BGP, multi-AS network is an important milestone in the development of next-generation IP networks and peering fabrics' said Steve Cotter, CEO of REANNZ.  'By teaming the VANDERVECKEN controller with the Corsa DP6420's scalable data plane, we have moved from the concept phase to actually passing bits across separate production SDN networks.  Treehouse is yet another in a long list of successful projects where research networks and industry come together to develop cutting-edge technologies and demonstrate what is possible. We are excited to be part of this international collaboration and position New Zealand as a leader in Software Defined Networking."