The end of the FEDERICA project

Three years ago, started with FEDERICA a new challenge in the “Research Infrastructures” area under the EC’s 7th Framework Program: Creating a European wide ‘technology agnostic’ infrastructure in order to allow the research community to perform disruptive experiments on new INTERNET architectures and protocols. This infrastructure had to be composed by computers, switches and routers connected by Gigabit Ethernet circuits.

The project wanted to achieve the following objectives:

  • Creating an e-infrastructure based on the substrate of the European Research & Education multi-gigabit network GÉANT, with the possibility to interconnect with the general Internet and other infrastructures.
  • Creating mechanisms to partition this infrastructure ( by means of  virtualization of  networking and computing nodes ) in order to create “Slices”, that are subsets of this infrastructure that can be delivered to researchers allowing them to control their resources and to perform disruptive experiments without adverse effects on existing production networks.
  • Facilitating technical discussions about results of the NREN activities and the research user’s requirements.
  • Providing information and results for the next generation of research networks (like GEANT3) and for future EC initiatives and projects.
  • Liaising with other EC projects in order to take advantage of all the gained knowledge and concentrate efforts doing more profitable things.
  • Proposing a model for managing and using virtual infrastructures as a combination of networks and systems. Several prototypes were expected in order to propose initial solutions on the management and control of the “slices” and for the communication between them and intercommunicating with other facilities.
  • Contributing to standardization bodies like IETF, ITU-T, TMF ( IPsphere ) offering real test cases and results.

Few days ago, concretely on the 30th October, FEDERICA project get to its end date. Only the final project review on January ’11 remains and we can summary the achievements gathered during all these 34 months of joint effort between all the FEDERICA partners.

The first main achievement was ending the deployment of the FEDERICA infrastructure. Four core Points of Presence (PoP) were deployed at first stage (available in October ’08) in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Poland, and nine PoPs in the other participating countries were gradually connected achieving the following picture.

Each PoP hosts one or more V-Nodes ( SUN Fire server) and a Juniper EX3200 Switch or a Juniper MX480 router. All links of this picture are 1 Gbps Ethernet. The NOC has been operational with dedicated tools like trouble tickets system and mailing lists. Furthermore Management and slice creation procedures were defined and have been stable. After that, PoPs were redesigned in order to include a small switch to connect the ELOM and management port in order to solve some problems during the startup of the V-nodes. Also the Juniper equipment’s software was upgraded to the latest versions. Finally a nice and powerful monitoring system has been deployed in order to allow the day-to-day monitoring for each device and also a Time Period monitoring of the different slices.

Regarding the User Community and their Experiments using the FEDERICA infrastructure, Networking Activity 2 involved partners collected information about the potential user groups within their respective countries and created a list of them. Users who had showed interest on the usage of FEDERICA requested a slice to the User Policy Board in order to perform their experiments. In the end, after finalizing them, these experiments were summarized in a deliverable report. One these experiments was for PHOSPHORUS project to perform scalability and performance tests of the Harmony system. After having the infrastructure deployed and several requests by users for slice creation (to perform previous explained experiments), several ones could be created and given to corresponding users. This process was done manually by the NOC  with the help of tools created in the Service Activity 2 in the first period of the project.

The following important achievement  was the creation of tools for increasing the easiness and efficiency of the creation and management of slices. The Slice Creation and Management Tool ( developed by i2Cat and UPC ) is capable of partitioning the different devices that compose the Physical substrate using the virtualization capabilities of them by means of the correct usage of their corresponding APIs. Creation of Logical Routers and logical interfaces in Juniper Routers, Creation and management of Virtual Machines in Servers using VMWare ESXi Hypervisor and Creation of VLANS in the Switches are some of these most important virtualization capabilities. All of this resource partitions are showed as individual resources and can be grouped in sets of resources called Slices. Finally these slices can be given to Users allowing them using their own user space to configure and accessing (ssh or VNC) their own resources without interfering in the whole physical devices and totally independent from other slices. All of these capabilities are offered to the NOC and to the End User (researcher) by means of a non-complex and so instinctive and visual Graphical Interface. Another important software achievement was the development of the User Access Web Portal in order to include the procedures for requesting and accessing slices by users.

Under the Joint Research activities partners evaluated several network control, management and monitoring tools and frameworks in order to find solutions for that, also including resource description and topology discovery, signaling, isolation and monitoring features. Several tests and prototypes have been carried out in these activities. Inside it most important ones are the following:

  • Using the OpenFlow Initiative as a virtualization platform (i.e. as a novel slicing method) and to explore it as an architecture for network virtualization in general.
  • Implementing an Interoperability prototype between IPsphere and MANTICORE software in order to interconnect FEDERICA slices with other facilities. The idea was to allow interconnecting FEDERICA slices (managed by MANTICORE) with other sites by means of the orchestration capabilities offered by our own implementation of the main IPsphere modules (i.e. SMSChild).

FEDERICA project also built relations and liaised with several projects and groups like FIRE community (Testbed facilities: OneLab2 and PII) , OpenFlow, BELIEF-II FP7 project, VNRG group of IRTF, MANTICORE project and IPsphere (TMF) community. With MANTICORE project a specific partnership was formed with the goals: Achieving synergy collaborating in common areas of interest, possibility to share experience and technical knowledge, agreeing on the dissemination and promotion of both and exchanging know-how and project results. About IPsphere,  i2CAT has participated in international conference calls of the group in order to identify changes or updates needed for the development of IPsphere components under FEDERICA. In addition to this, Networking Activity 4 members wrote papers for the TERENA Networking Conferences, attended and contributed in several meetings like TMF meeting in Lisbon, participated in FIRE weeks and a worldwide Press Release about FEDERICA was issued by Juniper. Taking into account all of these achievements we can conclude that FEDERICA has been a very profitable project where all of the objectives planned at the beginning have been gathered. All Deliverables have been submitted properly, several demonstrations of the software tools have been performed in order to show the correct working of the them, and partners have been very actives disseminating FEDERICA results and related work. But this hasn’t been an easy task. Partners have had to contribute with all planned effort and more, and also some deviations have appeared. Most important issues of the project have been:

  • At the beginning no much users were interested on FEDERICA infrastructure and we had a lack of feedback from the User community. So that, dissemination and exploitation plans for the last phase of the project have been concentrated on consolidating and enlarging the user community.
  • Hardware procurement in a distributed environment is very complex and the amount of infrastructure support needed was underestimated.
  • An extension of 4 months was requested by means of a contract amendment and approved by the commission in order to give more time to existing users (for ending their experiments), to attract more users and to enhance the automated slice creation functionality.
  • A re-distribution of PMs and budgets in order to adjust the real efforts done by partners. This was caused because: coordination was higher than planned; effort for UPB activity wasn’t initially planned and also because some partners didn’t have funding assigned for their PoP’s durable equipment offered.

After the project’s end, FEDERICA infrastructure is still ready and the consortium has to demonstrate that there is a community demanding the functionalities offered by the infrastructure. Several European Commission initiatives have started this year under new calls and most of these projects, supported by the FIRE community, have in mind to use FEDERICA infrastructure and results obtained in the project for federating plans with it. BonFIRE project have in mind federating their facility with FEDERICA in order to create a complex scenario where their cloud sites will be interconnected between them through a more controlled network. Also NOVI project wants to research on control, management and monitoring mechanisms for federated virtualized infrastructures and their experiments plan to federate FEDERICA and PlanetLab among others. So that seems that FEDERICA has opened a good way to allow researchers to experiment on future Internet. FEDERICA project is finished… but its results will be present in  next years.

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