Midokura Pushes Open Source SDN Forward

Both enterprise and open-source community releases of the MidoNet SDN framework are moving ahead.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Feb 27, 2015
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Midokura is out this week with its Midokura Enterprise MidoNet (MEM) 1.8 SDN release, which is based on the open-source MidoNet 2015.01 milestone.

Midokura open-sourced MidoNet in November 2014 in a bid to make it more accessible and encourage broader developer participation. In the three months since then, Midokura's development process for MidoNet has evolved somewhat.

"It did take some getting used to, doing everything in the open," Adam Johnson, VP of Business at Midokura, told Enterprise Networking Planet.

Johnson explained that since Midokura itself is fairly distributed, with developers in five countries, the internal development procedure is based off of OpenStack's. Midokura uses Tempest as the basis for automated testing and Gerrit for continuous integration code reviews. Midokura is also using Github for its private repositories.

"From an infrastructure and workflow perspective, nothing really changed when open sourcing," Johnson explained. "We did have to separate out our infrastructure, so that when we eventually give up governance of the project, it should be a relatively easy migration."

In terms of doing everything in the open, including communications, Johnson noted that Midokura's own developers were using Slack, and it was hard to move those conversations over to public IRC. Midokura has since moved back from IRC to a public Slack implemenation that enables external contributors to collaborate.

From a technical organizational perspective, the open-source MidoNet project is the upstream code. Johnson noted that Midokura will then occasionally pull down a MidoNet release and turn it into a Midokura Enterprise MidoNet (MEM) release. This week's release is MEM 1.8, which is based off of MidoNet 2015.01.

"MEM adds a couple different closed source components on top of open source MidoNet, namely MidoNet Manager, our graphical user interface for administrators, as well as our vSphere plugin," Johnson said.

Among the features that Midokura is working on for future MidoNet and MEM releases is improved IPv6 address support. IPv6 address support was a key area of focus in the OpenStack Juno release in 2014 and will find its way into MidoNet in the second quarter of 2015.

Another area that MidoNet development is tackling is the intersection with Docker containers. Johnson noted that Docker and other containers are exciting for Midokura because they lower the overhead barrier to breaking up applications into smaller pieces.

"This can bring many advantages to developers in general," Johnson said. "However, it can increase complexity around networking, especially when it comes to security and policies between containers."

He added that overlays like MidoNet are well suited to tackle the complexity challenges. Midokura now has a number of developers working on the challenges and has even posted a demo video of MidoNet and OpenStack with Docker containers.

Overall, looking forward, Johnson said that Midokura has been working on a major re-architecture of MidoNet to make components more modular and easier to develop on.

"We're targeting releasing this into a release sometime in the May/June timeframe, which will end up being a part of MEM 2.0," Johnson said. "We expect the result of this work to dramatically speed up our development, and help third party contributors to easier get started with MidoNet development."

Midokura is also working to extend the overlay into the physical network. The basic idea is to provide more visibility and control of the fabric using switch operating systems such as Cumulus Linux.

"Today, both MidoNet and MEM can remotely program hardware VTEPs (VXLAN Tunnel Endpoint) on capable switches (trident II) to connect bare metal servers into a MidoNet logical network, using the Top of Rack switch as a hardware VXLAN gateway," Johnson said. "The next step is to provide full visibility of flows across the logical and physical networks."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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