Since 8 March 2012, REANNZ has been operating a switch with Openflow enabled.
Configured by our own Sam Russell, with Josh Bailey from Google’s help, we believe it’s the first such switch in the country. (Are we wrong? Let us know! We’d love to hear about others.)
What Openflow is
Openflow is technology that promises to give network operators more control of their infrastructure and reduce overall capital, complexity and operational costs.
For example, it could be used to allow data intensive research traffic to safely bypass firewalls, to dramatically increase data throughput and reduce costs.
What we did
For those interested in the specifics of what we did, we used a Pronto 3290 switch, supplied by Josh, with a NOX controller, and the technical details of the process we went through can be found on our wiki.
An overview without the really technical stuff
As you may know, Openflow switches can be set up so that the flows are entered manually. As this is the simplest way to set them up, this is how we began.
But then we started to get clever and set up the NOX controller with a pyswitch app. It wasn’t exactly straight-forward. Being an open-source, leading edge technology, it didn’t work right out of the box. We had to modify the pyswitch app, and with this Josh was again a huge help.
Now when the packets come through, they go to the controller, and the controller sets the flow. Just like magic.
History and future
All this has come about because of the Openflow workshop held a few weeks ago at Victoria University (thanks to Professor John Hine for helping to pull it together).
Due to the success of that event, we’re now putting together a more practical session where network engineers can get their hands dirty and write some code with Josh’s advice. Called the Bootcamp, we’re calling for expressions of interest from those who may wish to take part.