Welcome!

Linux Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Victoria Livschitz, Ignacio M. Llorente

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Cloud Expo, Security

SDN Journal: Blog Post

What SDN Can Do for Multicast Topologies

IP Multicast is one of those technologies that most everyone loves to hate

IP Multicast is one of those technologies that most everyone loves to hate. It’s almost the perfect example of how complicated we have made networking. Getting IP Multicast to run depends on several protocols that are all somewhat intertwined or dependent on each, their relationship sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit.

Even trying to describe the basic operation is complicated.

When an application or service provides information using IP multicast, it simply starts sending it onto a specific multicast group. The multicast router for the subnet of the sender sees the incoming multicast packet and will initially have no forwarding information for that stream in its forwarding hardware. The packet is passed onto the CPU of that router, which will encapsulate this packet and send it towards a special multicast router designated the Rendez-vous Point (RP). When the RP has installed the multicast routes for this group, it will tell the multicast router on the sender’s segment to stop sending. When it does, this router installs its own multicast routes for the source tree (the tree specific to this sender) and the shared tree (the one towards the RP) without any outgoing interfaces, and the traffic is dropped at this first router. But, the network (well at least the part between the sender and the RP) is now aware of this multicast stream. And who is sending.

Now when we want to join this IP Multicast group, the first action is send an IGMP join out on the subnet you are attached to. The IP Multicast router that serves this subnet sees the join and determines where RP can be found. It takes the client join, and sends it towards the RP, using the unicast routing table as its guide. Every multicast router along the way registers that there is a listener on the interface this join came in on and passes it along towards the IP. All along this path, the unicast routing entry for the RP is used to create the tree towards the listener.

Once received by the RP, the shared tree and the source tree towards the sender have been joined. We have an end to end path between sender and receiver, with the RP in the middle of it all. All that is left is to send a join from the RP towards the router on the sender’s subnet to essentially tell it to start passing the actual multicast along the path towards the RP (the source tree), where the RP will then push it out onto the shared tree towards the destination. Voila, it’s as simple as that.

But wait, we are not done. Once the packets start to flow from source to destination, the multicast router closest to the destination will send another join message for this group, but this time towards the sender. It is only now that it can do this because those first few data packets actually indicate who the sender is. That join is passed router to router to router towards the router on the sender’s subnet, and once arrived, that router will now also start sending the multicast data along that path towards the receiver. The receiving subnet router sees that stream appearing and will now send a prune message onto the shared tree towards the RP, indicating it no longer needs the multicast stream through the RP.

If you are not familiar with IP Multicast and after reading the above are not confused, congratulations, your brain is very well wired for complex networking.

If you step away from how IGMP and PIM implement this today as above, the most fundamental of IP multicast topologies is that you need to build a forwarding tree that is rooted in the source, with the destinations as its leaves. At each intermediate node in the tree, the packets are replicated to its branches, therefore creating the least amount of duplication. And by using a tree, it is loop free, packets won’t swirl around the network bringing it to its knees.

The challenging part though is that the tree is based on the unicast forwarding topology. From a leaf on this tree towards the sender, each step is identical to how a unicast IP packet would be forwarded. The forwarding topologies are connected and dependent on each other. IP Multicast is built on top of a unicast routed infrastructure, and unicast routing changes can have dramatic impacts to the multicast forwarding topologies.

I mentioned here before that I once spent a wonderful 2 weeks in Delhi working on a network where surveillance cameras created an aggregate 8Gbit/sec worth of multicast data, with a requirement that any unicast change would have limited impact to these streams. Believe me, it is extremely hard to engineer and tune, and we had the luxury of hijacking a really large network night after night to simulate failures.

SDN based architectures have the opportunity to change all this. Multicast forwarding was designed the way it was designed to work on arbitrary network topologies, with random senders and receivers coming and going. It builds trees on the fly and on demand. For many networks, topologies are not arbitrary, and those applications that consume/produce lots of multicast do not have randomly placed senders and receivers that come and go as they please.  Many of them are well known or placed in fairly static and fixed topologies.

A controller with a global view of the network can create multicast topologies ahead of time. It knows all possible replication points and can create distribution trees among them. It can create different distribution trees for different multicast groups. It can create them independent of the unicast forwarding. It can calculate backup topologies in case portions of the tree fail. And it can do all of that guaranteeing there are no loops and optimal replication. When applications indicate their participation in specific multicast streams as senders or listeners to this controller, it can optimize very specifically based on those participants. The possibilities are endless.

We had a customer visit us yesterday that has very significant multicast needs and we walked him through some of these possibilities. He left with a huge smile on his face. And that smile on his face was not because he really liked what we built (even though he did), but it was because we showed him that if you remove legacy network thinking and constraints, networking can yet again be extremely exciting and creates solutions that he did not think were possible, in a fairly simple and straightforward way. And that, in turn, is truly exciting to us.

The post What SDN can do for Multicast Topologies appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Marten Terpstra

Marten Terpstra is a Product Management Director at Plexxi Inc. Marten has extensive knowledge of the architecture, design, deployment and management of enterprise and carrier networks.

@ThingsExpo Stories
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.