A DARPA-driven project based on OpenStack has been demonstrated in the US, with the bold claim that it will eventually lead to sub-second provisioning for connectivity between clouds.
The world is already familiar with the concept of elastic clouds, with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and World+Dog offering some variant on such themes for customers on their services. Cloud-to-cloud elasticity is another matter, since carriers and their optical networks have to be pulled into the stack.
IBM, AT&T, and Applied Communications Sciences worked together on the project, which IBM describes as a proof of concept demonstrating “a cloud system that monitors and automatically scales the network up or down as applications need”.
The basic signalling is quite simple, Doug Freimuth from IBM Research explains in the post we've linked to above: “It works by the cloud data centre sending a signal to a network controller that describes the bandwidth needs, and which cloud data centre need to connect”.
For that, Freimuth says, the system needs an orchestrator between data centres, akin to the in-data-centre orchestration already pursued by cloud vendors and the open source world alike.
The idea is also to get rid of truck rolls to wind up or down the WAN muscle connecting the clouds, instead assuming that the optical medium has the necessary bandwidth, and all that's really needed is for the carrier's equipment to be able to respond to provisioning requests and pass that change onto billing systems.
According to R&D Magazine, AT&T developed the bandwidth-on-demand networking architecture, while ACS provided its optical-layer routing and signalling technology.
AT&T Labs' Robert Doverspike said the proof-of-concept combined SDN concepts with “advanced, cost-efficient network routing in a realistic carrier network environment”.
“This prototype was implemented on OpenStack, an open-source cloud-computing platform for public and private clouds, elastically provisioning WAN connectivity and placing virtual machines between two clouds for the purpose of load balancing virtual network functions,” R&D Mag continues.
The prototype was developed under DARPA's seven-year-old CORONET program. ®