How to build a FIBRE island (I)

This is the first of several posts where you can follow the process of choosing, installation and configuration of the components for the FIBRE Project i2CAT’s island testbed.

As it was said in the previous post about the FIBRE project, one of the objectives of the project is to enhance the FP7 OFELIA facility with new equipment.

In this first post we will present the several choices we are considering for the hardware we want to purchase, based on which is the objective of the FIBRE project. In later posts we list the purchased equipment, how it is installed in the i2CAT’s premises in the labs at Castelldefels and how it is configured to work properly.

According to the FIBRE Project Document of Work, the i2CAT OFELIA island enhancement will “install some new OpenFlow-enabled switches to the existing infrastructure. It will also add a small subset (3-4) Wi-Fi access points, and consider the acquisition of traffic generator(s) and analyser(s). i2CAT may also be deploying the equipment to implement the European hub of the FIBRE facility, as it is one of the potential locations to play this role”.

At the moment of writing this post, the acquisition of traffic generator(s) and analyser(s) is almost discarded due to budget limitations. The possibility of implementing the European hub of the FIBRE facility is being discussed by the European partners, and if finally i2CAT island is assigned as the European hub, the actual connection to RedIris will be used, so in principle no additional hardware should be necessary.

SuperMicro SuperServer 6016T-T

SuperMicro SuperServer 6016T-T

That leaves us with the issue in servers, switches and Wi-Fi access points. The servers will probably be 3 SuperMicro SuperServer 6016T-T. Each server will have 2 Intel Xeon E5620 processors, with 6GB RAM memory, 2TB of hard disk capacity and a 10/100/1000 Ethernet card. This is a similar configuration to the OFELIA servers, which have shown a good performance for the purpose of the project.

Regarding the switches, the straightforward solution would be to acquire more units of the switches actually used in the OFELIA island. We are experienced with them; we know how to configure them and how to work with them. But one of the implicit purposes of the FIBRE project is to evaluate the performance of different OpenFlow implementations, and this solution would not contribute with new knowledge so we discarded it.

We are considering acquiring three PRONTO TN3290 switches. According to the distributor specifications, these switches support OpenFlow right out of the box. It is one of the options available when the switch is booted up. Each switch has 48 10/ 100/ 1000BASE-T RJ45 ports and 4 10Gbps SFP+ uplink ports, so we will add at least two SFP Transceivers to each switch, but if final budged allows it, we will add four of them.

Switch PRONTO TN3290

Switch PRONTO TN3290

Finally, regarding to the Wi-Fi access points, we do not look specifically for OpenFlow enabled devices. Instead of this, we will use the OpenWrt technology. OpenWrt allows turning a cheap commercial wireless router and access point into an OpenFlow enabled switch with a WebUI and a CLI. This solution will help us to avoid purchasing expensive OpenFlow-enabled equipment.

That is the equipment that is being considered to purchase. Once it is acquired, it will be installed in the i2CAT lab premises at Castelldefels, where the i2CAT’s OFELIA island is deployed.


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