Using SmartNICs to Accelerate OpenStack Networking

By Daniel Proch, VP of Software Solution Marketing, Netronome

Netronome is proud to be a headline sponsor of the upcoming OpenStack Days: Silicon Valley 2016 on August 9-10 in Mountain View, California. In addition, we look forward to having our Chief Architect and Co-founder, Johann Tonsing, present “Using SmartNICs to Accelerate OpenStack Networking” during the breakout session on August 9 at 1:30 p.m.

Both OVS (match-action tables) and Linux bridges/firewalls (IPTables, Connection Tracking) are used widely with OpenStack networking for server-based networking functions, such as forwarding packets to VMs and implementing quality of service, load balancing, and security. When OVS and Linux bridging and firewalling are used for such networking functions and are implemented using x86 cores in a server, the performance penalty and CPU consumption tax is considerable. Hardware-based acceleration is needed to bring back much-needed efficiency and performance.

Smart Network Interface Cards (SmartNICs) are increasingly being deployed in OpenStack-managed cloud data centers to offload network processing tasks from server CPUs, thereby improving system throughput while freeing up server CPU cycles for application processing. These tasks could involve tunnel termination/origination, virtual switching/routing, firewalling, and other security-related processing, and/or analytics. The required behavior could be defined by existing server software, such as Open vSwitch (with or without connection tracking) or Contrail vRouter. Or it could be expressed in new datapath programs, written in languages like P4.

Johann’s presentation considers the requirements that apply to this usage domain as well as the characteristics and features that SmartNICs need to exhibit to optimally support the requirements. It considers how these datapaths can be integrated into and configured and managed by OpenStack. The performance attainable using SmartNICs is compared to the performance achieved using regular NICs. It concludes by commenting on how standards and open source need to evolve to fully support this usage domain.

Attendees to the session at OpenStack Days Silicon Valley can expect to learn how SmartNICs are increasingly being deployed in OpenStack managed cloud datacenters to offload network processing tasks from server CPUs, thereby improving system throughput while freeing up server CPU cycles for application processing. These tasks could involve tunnel termination/origination, virtual switching/routing, firewalling and other security related processing, and/or analytics. The required behavior could be defined by existing server software—for example Open vSwitch (with or without connection tracking) or Contrail vRouter—or expressed in new datapath programs, written in languages like P4.

In addition to our presentation, we invite you to come visit our knowledgeable staff at booth H5 and learn how our Agilio intelligent server adapters/SmartNICs with Agilio OVS and OVS Firewall Software provide complete integration with OpenStack and accelerate networking and security features delivered to workloads in VMs.

Look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Data Center” by Bob Mical is licensed under CC VY-NC 2.0

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