Cisco Opflex Protocol Moves Forward at OpenStack and OpenDaylight

Open-source communities now incubating Cisco-led approach for network policy.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 5, 2014
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A month ago, Cisco announced a new approach to define network policy with the OpFlex protocol. The OpFlex control protocol was submitted as an Internet Engineering Task Force draft on April 2.

A key promise that Cisco made during its OpFlex release is that the protocol and its associated group policy construct would be contributed to open-source development communities to help foster an open standard.

Cisco is living up to that promise.

On May 1, Cisco developer Sumit Naiksatam officially committed a group policy blueprint for the OpenStack Neutron networking codebase. The group-based policy abstraction model has, however, been in discussion at OpenStack since at least October of 2013. The plan is now for the Group Policy API to be in the next OpenStack platform release, codenamed Juno, and set to debut at the end of 2014.

While OpFlex is the protocol, the Group Policy API is the mechanism by which the policies are managed and enabled. By integrating the Group Policy API into OpenStack Neutron, the open source community will be building a cloud platform mechanism that supports OpFlex.

"The policy framework described in this blueprint complements the current Neutron model with the notion of policies that can be applied between groups of endpoints," the OpenStack blueprint states. " As users look beyond basic connectivity, richer network services with diverse implementations and network properties are naturally expressed as policies."

The Group Policy approach introduces a model to OpenStack Neutron that is application-centric, rather than network-centric, according the blueprint proposal. What is also particularly noteworthy about the Group Policy proposal is that it is not being baked into Neutron as some kind of mandatory control point.

"It should be noted though that the use of this new layer of abstraction/extensions is optional, and as such will not affect the performance of the existing implementation if the former is not used," the blueprint states.

The OpFlex Protocol itself is now also moving forward in the open-source community as well. OpFlex has now been accepted by the OpenDaylight Technical Steering Committee as a bootstrap project.

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

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