OpenStack Project Quantum Delivers Open Source Cloud Networking

Quantum opens up the door to a new level of OpenStack cloud networking.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Sep 27, 2011
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The OpenStack open source cloud platform came out with its Diablo release last week. Among the items included in Diablo is a tech preview of Project Quantum, the new networking project within OpenStack. Quantum offers the promise of expanded networking capabilities within an OpenStack cloud.

"Service providers want to enable their customers to do more advanced networking in the cloud," Dan Wendlandt, Team Lead for Quantum Project at OpenStack told InternetNews.com. "They want to be able to attract workloads from more traditional enterprise data center environments and pull them into the cloud."

Wendlandt explained that networking within OpenStack to date has just been a sub-system of the Nova compute project and has had limited networking capabilities. The ability to have a multi-tiered network, with isolated network segments for database, web and applications is something that Quantum will now enable.

"Being able to create rich networking topologies is something you could not do with OpenStack before," Wendlandt said. "Quantum introduces a lot of flexibility for customers to design their network topology and tailor it for their needs."

The ability to support private customer networks is something that Wendlandt expects to be a popular feature that Quantum enables on OpenStack. He added that Quantum lets network administrators take both physical and virtual switch technologies and integrate them with OpenStack.

The ability to integrate with technologies like the Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch as well as the open source Open vSwitch is now possible with Quantum. In addition to being the lead for Project Quantum, Wendlandt is also the Sr. Product Manager at Nicira Networks which is the lead sponsor behind the Open vSwitch application.

"These switches support layer 2 and layer 3 tunneling which lets customers have their own private layer 2 network while giving them the ability to have some virtual machines in one availability zone and some in another," Wendlandt said. "Some of the service providers that adopt Quantum will be adopting it for this reason."

By supporting the advanced features of an underlying network, Quantum will support things like Quality of Service, monitoring and troubleshooting. Wendlandt said that traditional networking capabilities will now be exposed to OpenStack via programmatic APIs.

"How that functionality is implemented, what types of tunneling and tagging are used under the covers, is actually abstracted away inside the plug-in," Wendlandt said.

Wendlandt explained that today Quantum has a plug-in based on Open vSwitch that uses a tunneling approach that is very similar to VXLAN (Virtual eXtensible Local Area Network). The VXLAN approach was announced earlier this year as a joint effort of Cisco, Citrix, Red Hat and VMware.

"The beauty of the design is it lets anyone leverage and showcase their own technology without OpenStack having to make a decision about which technology is supported," Wendlandt said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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