Crossbow enables an Open Networking Platform
By sunay on Mar 02, 2009
Crossbow enables an Open Networking PlatformI came across this blog from Paul Murphy. You should read the second half of Pauls blog. What he says pretty true. Crossbow delivered a brand new networking stack to Solaris which has scalability, virtualization, QoS, and better observability designed in (instead of patched in). The complete list of features delivered and under works are here. Coupled with a full fledged open source Quagga Routing Suite (RIP, OSPF, BGP, etc), IP Filter Firewall, and a kernel Load Balancer, OpenSolaris becomes a pretty useful platform for building Open Networking appliances.
Apart from single box functionality, imagine if you want to deliver Virtual Router or a load balancer, it would be pretty easy to do so. OpenSolaris offers Zones where you can deliver a pre configured zone as a Router, Load balancer, or a firewall. The difference would be that this Zone would be fully portable to another machine running OpenSolaris and will have no performance penalty. After all, we aka Crossbow team guarantee that our VNICs with Zones do not have any performance penalties. You can also build a fully portable and pre configured virtual networking equipment using Xen guest which can be made to migrate between any OpenSolaris or Linux host.
I noticed that couple of folks on Paul blog were asking about why Crossbow NIC virtualization is different? Well, its not just the NIC being virtualized but actually the entire data path along with it called a Virtualization Lane. You can see the virtualization lane all the way from NIC to socket Layer and back here. Not only is there one or more Virtualization Lanes per virtual machine, the bandwidth partitioning, Diffserv tagging, priority, CPU assignment etc. are designed in as part of the architecture. The same concepts are used to scale the stack across multiples of 10gigE NIC over large number of cores and threads (out of the world forwarding performance anyone!).
And as mentioned before, Crossbow enables Virtual Wire. A ability to create a full featured network without any physical wires. Think of running network simulations and testing in a whole new light!!