StarAX Innovation Engine: StarLight Advanced eXchange

StarAX Innovation Engine

To enable the rapid prototyping and deployment of services and technologies at global SDXs, the StarAX Innovation Engine is being developed as a platform, pioneered by StarLight and its partners. The heterogeneous nature of global R&E networking requires complexity in SDX implementations. In other words, different services, networks and network exchanges have different policies, services, architectures, schedules, control and management frameworks, and different approaches for SDN technology deployment and integration. This required diversity precludes a one-size-fits-all approach. Consequently, StarLight partners provide an SDN development environment in which they can develop complementary and interoperable services, interfaces, protocols, and other solutions.

Even as multi-domain and multi-service SDN support is established at SDXs, a collection of exemplary SDN applications will need to be continually developed and tested to insure ongoing evolution toward improvement. The StarAX Innovation Engine enables early adopters to quickly use the SDXs as well as the SDN applications as a foundation to build other SDN applications. This Bring You Own Resources and Share with Others (BYOR-SO) model is helping facilitate R&D collaborations. It was successfully demonstrated at the SC17 Network Research Exhibition, SC18 Network Research Exhibition, SC19 Network Research Exhibition, the iGENI Slice Around the World initiative, the annual GLIF workshop, the HPDMnet initiative, and other national and international SDN/SDX demonstrations and showcases. 

GRP/PRP/TNRP and XRP at SDX (in progress)

The Global Research Platform (GRP) evolved from an architectural framework environment based on the Energy Science Networks (ESnet) Science DMZ, which is optimized for data-intensive science. This framework has been instantiated at multiple research facilities and on US research campuses through the National Science Foundation’s Campus Cyber Infrastructure program. The Pacific Research Platform (PRP), which includes the StarLight SDX, was developed as a regional research platform. Currently, initial elements of a National Research Platform (NRP) are being implemented.

These activities, including cooperative projects with other NSF-funded SDXs, have led to consideration of a generalized X Research Platform (XRP), a highly distributed environment encompassing regional, local, national, and international research and education communities engaged in scientific research challenges in the era of Big Data/AI. This multi-domain, large-scale, heterogeneous, secure XRP environment is being designed specifically to support data-intensive scientific applications as opposed to generalized applications.

XRP is a highly distributed environment (global in scale) that closely integrates high-performance computing, networking, storage systems and instruments from universities and research institutions worldwide. It reducing divisions and boundaries among services and resources to enable seamless use by applications, providing researchers around the world with efficient access to specific resources required by their applications.

SDX DTN-as-a-Service (DaaS) (in progress)

High-performance network data transfers require a highly-optimized system to enable big data movement in LAN and WAN. The optimized system includes CPU, NIC, OS, NVMe, and TCP stack optimization, as well as network switch connection and ethernet setting optimization. A systematic approach for DTN optimization and diagnosing sub-optimal system parameters allows consistent performance from a set of DTNs with different configurations. In addition to systematic optimization, SDX DaaS provides a framework for users to use transfer protocols that fully utilize underlying DTNs to fit their environment and requirements. DaaS allows users to perform transfer with different transfer protocols (including NVMe-over-Fabrics), parameters, and NUMA settings.

SDX Network Engineer SDN Console (in progress)

The SDX Network Engineer SDN Console reduces the entry barrier to SDX development and deployment and enables quick implementations of similar SDN services at different SDXs. Given network engineers have limited opportunities to become familiar with SDN software technologies and network virtualization software techniques, the SDN Console enables a common SDN testing and development environment for networking communities.

Phase 1 of the SDN Console implements a software development environment package that contains an SDX development environment, a baseline preconfigured software environment ready to use, and a version control function to enable network engineers to test and prototype new SDX services with different versions of the software, as needed.

When completed, the SDN Console will enable SDX partners to start SDX projects quickly, share SDN software and SDX services easily, reproduce SDN experiences reliably, and build common experiences and expertise on software development and testing procedures. It will also have an option to include a live network into the development environment to test new services. This will let network engineers share ownership of global SDX projects collectively, in an open standards, open architecture, open interoperability approach.

SDN Solution Repository and Manager (in progress)

The SDN Solution Repository and Manager is a repository of selected and up-to-date SDN solutions. A systematic way to select, recommend, and update new SDN solutions created by SDX partners or from third-party open-source providers will be a critical step to guarantee the successful sharing of R&D results.

SDN Simulator (in progress)

The SDN Simulator enables network engineers to prototype and test new SDX services in a self-sufficient software development environment. It enables offline experimentation, prototyping, testing, analysis, and evaluation. As SDN is a fairly new technology that has not yet been deployed in exchanges, a reliable way to prototype, test and evaluate new software solutions without using a production network will be important for implementing SDN services at SDXs.

Flowvisor/OpenVirtex Integration with SDN Console (in progress)

SDN physical slicing/virtualization resources have been achieved using Flowvisor/OpenVirtex or its equivalent software functions. This is a critical component for the design, development, prototyping, and deployment of new SDX services. A version of Flowvisor/OpenVirtex or its equivalent will be distributed with the SDN Console package to complete the self-sufficient development environment.