Cisco Advances OpenStack and Container Networking Efforts

by Sean Michael Kerner

VIDEO: Lew Tucker, Vice President and CTO of Cloud Computing at Cisco, discusses why software and hardware innovation is needed for high-performance networking at scale.

Cisco is working on multiple efforts to help improve the state of both OpenStack and container networking. In a video interview, Lew Tucker, Vice President and CTO of Cloud Computing, provides insight into the current and future state of networking for OpenStack and container environments.

In the container world, the Container Networking Interface (CNI) has emerged to become a de facto standard way for plugging into Kubernetes container deployments. What isn't entirely clear quite yet is where the intersection exists between OpenStack Neutron networking and container networking.

Tucker said that what's going on with CNI is a work in progress, but that the model is that of pluggable interfaces.

"If you're running an environment where you're running containers and OpenStack, then Neturon would be the layer below (CNI) that it could work with," Tucker said.

Cisco has a project called Contiv that provides a policy driven approach for container networking. Contiv has been designed to be interoperable with a standard OpenStack Neutron operating environment. What's Next for Neutron?

Looking specifically at the Neutron networking project in OpenStack, there is a continued evolution toward higher performance networking capabilities.

Tucker explained that when Neutron got started, under its original name Quantum, the effort was mostly focussed on virtual network for tenants. Today Neutron helps to enable Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for large operators like Comcast and AT&T which are looking for the highest levels of networking performance.

"We can't just say run everything over VXLAN and we're done, we really need to have ways of coupling higher-performance networking with Neutron," Tucker said.

The higher performance networking is coming by way of advanced approaches like SR-IOV (Single Root Input/Output Virtualization) which allows for hardware network interface cards (NICs) to be directly mapped into the virtual address space.

Cisco recently helped to launch the FD.io project which provides VPP (Vector Packet Processing) capabilities. Tucker explained that VPP is a very high-speed packet processing engine.

"OVS (Open virtual Switch) is fine as a virtual switch, which is where it is being used today," Tucker said. "But if you really want high-performance packet processing, then VPP can start to be used."

Innovation in software defined and virtual networking can be further accelerated with hardware. Tucker said in some of the larger customers that Cisco works with there is a need for Cisco's traditional routing solutions alongside OpenStack deployments.

"Hardware still has its' place, what you have to do is integrate into the rest of the virtuallized world," Tucker said.

Watch the video interview with Lew Tucker below:

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

This article was originally published on Tuesday May 30th 2017