Mantychore FP7: IP Networks as a Service

This text has been submited as Extended Abstract at TERENA 2010. You can visit the project website here, and join our public mailing list here.

Current National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Europe provide connectivity services to their main customers: the research and education community. Traditionally these services have been delivered on a manual basis, although some efforts towards automating the service setup and operation have been initiated. At the same time, more focus is being put in the ability of the community to control some characteristics of these connectivity services, so that users can change some of the service characteristics without having to renegotiate with the service provider.

Mantychore FP7 is the natural evolution of its parent projects: MANTICORE[1] and MANTICORE II. MANTICORE implemented a proof of concept which proves the idea of IP network and router as a Service (IPNaaS), all this management in Layer 3 where MANTICORE works. MANTICORE II continued its steps to implement stable software with the feedback, expertise and know-how received. Also, MANTICORE II added new and improved capabilities to the software and run a success pilot project where MANTICORE II partners got the chance to run some trials on their own network and equipment.

The Mantychore FP7 [2] project wants to consolidate this trend and allow the NRENs to provide a complete, flexible IP network service that allows research communities to create an IP network under their control, where they can configure:

i) Layer 1, Optical links. Users will be able to get permissions over optical devices like optical switches, and configure some important properties of its cards and ports. Mantychore will integrate the Argia framework [3] which provides complete control of optical resources.

ii) Layer 2, Ethernet and MPLS. Users will be able to get permission over Ethernet and MPLS (Layer 2.5) switches, and configure different services. In this aspect, Mantychore will integrate ETHER project and its capabilities for the management of Ethernet and MPLS resources.

iii) Layer 3, Mantychore FP7 suite includes set of features for:

  1. Configuration of virtual networks.
  2. Configuration of physical interfaces.
  3. Support of routing protocols, both internal (RIP, OSPF) and external (BGP).
  4. Support of QoS and firewall services.
  5. Creation, modification and deletion of virtual resources: logical interfaces, logical routers.
  6. Support of IPv6. It allows the configuration of IPv6 in interfaces, routing protocols, networks,

In order to streamline the software suite and provide a better coupling with day-to-day NREN and research communities’ usage, much emphasis is put on gathering requirements and feedback not only at the beginning but through all the length of the project. The Service Activity 3 (SA3) members (i2CAT and UPC), in the context of T4.2, have assumed the unprecedented compromise to release a new deployable version of the software each month. This monthly deployment will both incorporate previous feedback and serve as new baseline for further refinement and enhancement of the software suite. Mantychore FP7 will carry out pre-operational deployments of the IP network service at two NRENS: HEAnet [4] and NORDUnet [5]. Initially three communities of researchers will benefit from this service: the Nordic Health Data Network, the British Advance High Quality Media Services and the Irish Grid effort [6]. Part of the project effort will be dedicated to consolidate and enhance the community of providers (NRENs but also commercial) and users of the IP network service. It includes a first phase to get requirements of each Mantychore users, and a second phase to define necessary use cases.

In order to improve IaaS service some alternative but very interesting topics will be researched. Framed as Joint Research Activities (JRAs), an infrastructure resource marketplace and the use of renewable energy sources to power e-Infrastructures will be liaised, enriching both the user community and the roadmap of the Mantychore project.

A marketplace provides a single venue that facilitates the sharing of information about resources and services between providers and customers. It provides an interface through which consumers are able to access the discovered resources from their respective providers. The Mantychore FP7 marketplace represents a virtual resource pool that provides a unified platform in which multiple infrastructure providers can advertise their network resources and characteristics to be discovered by potential consumers of the resource. Thus, the Marketplace involves three types of entities. (a) the customers that use the resources.  These customers may be end-users, service providers or other providers who wish to extend their point of presence, (b) the infrastructure providers, that provide information about the state of their underlying infrastructure to satisfy the demands of customers, and (c) the matchmaking entity that is used to lookup and locate relevant resources as requested by the customer. The matchmaking entity mediates among the providers and the customer and uses a matching algorithm that parses requests into queries, evaluates the queries over the resources in the marketplace repository and returns the relevant resources. These algorithms are implemented on a generic manner using quality of service parameters suitable to both Layer 3, 2 and 1.

Also, as a part of a JRA, the Mantychore FP7 project will start collaborating with the GreenStar Network project (GSN) [7], a CANARIE [8] funded initiative. The GSN project will develop a practical carbon footprint exchange standard for Information & Communication Technology (ICT) services, will carry out studies on the feasibility of powering e-Infrastructures with unstable renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, and will also develop management & technical policies that leverage virtualization to migrate virtual infrastructure resources from one site to another based on power availability to facilitate use of renewable energy within the GreenStar Network. The principal objective of this collaboration relies on providing an IaaS management tool and integrating the NREN infrastructures with the GSN network that is formed by a set of green nodes where each one is powered by renewable energy source. The benefits obtained from this collaboration are reflected on the emergence of new and rare use cases where energy considerations are taken into account. Among other topics of research, how to move virtual services without suffering connectivity interruptions and how the physical location can influence in that relocation.

In addition to the two JRA, NA3 is working towards incorporating new users and communities to enrich the user base. The Mantychore FP7 project is committed to incorporate as much viewpoints and uses as possible in order to reach a more complete and valuable software and expertise pool. In that regard, and taking to account that the project is developed inside a research framework, coordination channels and infrastructure tools have been setup around an open model that not only allows but welcomes expert participation at all levels. For this reason, the project resources (technical discussions, contributions, official documents) are open and available for any interested individual or community to join. In addition, Mantychore FP7 is very much open to receive feedback and collaborations with other research fields.

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[1] Eduard Grasa, Xavier Hesselbach, Sergi Figuerola, Victor Reijs, Dave Wilson, Jean Marc Uze, Lars Fishcer, Tomás de Miguel, “The MANTICORE Project: Providing users with a Logical IP Network Service”, TERENA Networking Conference 2008

[2] Mantychore FP7 project website [Online]. Available at

[3] E. Grasa, S. Figuerola, A. Forns, G. Junyent, J. Mambretti; “Extending the Argia software with a dynamic optical multicast service to support high performance digital media”. Optical Switching and Networking, Vol 6, Issue 2, pp. 120-128. April 2009.

[4] HEAnet website [Online]. Available at

[5] NORDUnet website [Online]. Available at

[6] OPsCentre website [Online]. Available at

[7] GreenStar Network project website [Online]. Available at

[8] CANARIE website [Online]. Available at

About Joan A. García-Espín

M.Sc. Joan A. García-Espín ( is the Director of the Distributed Applications and Networks Area (DANA) of the i2CAT Foundation. He received his Telecommunication Engineering degree from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) in 2007. He wrote his Master Thesis in design and implementation of TE-enabled, DiffServ-aware MPLS networks for providing end-to-end QoS, also in 2007. He is a PhD candidate in the Telematics Engineering Department of the UPC. He is currently working in European projects FP7 GEYSERS (WP3 Leader) and GÉANT3. He has also participated in various European projects such as FP6 PHOSPHORUS and FP7 FEDERICA, and national (Spanish) projects including Enigma, Enigma Enhanced (Enigma II) and E3MS. He owns experience in optical networking, dynamic switching and management systems for networks, QoS and DiffServ for MPLS networks and infrastructure virtualisation. He is an active contributor to the NSI-wg and ISOD-rg gropus in the Open Grid Forum. His main research interests are cooperative agent interaction for network service provisioning, infrastructure virtualisation and network resource sharing and allocation.
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