There’s Real Magic behind OpenStack Neutron

Really easy to create a new post on any blog – the most complex part is to think about the content – you can do it through a couple of clicks on your laptop, or from your phone/tablet, or just reblog other interesting posts from some mates. The same thing happens with OpenStack, you can create Servers instances, routers, subnets, firewalls, VPNs, Load Balancers through just a couple of clicks – well, first of all,  you need to plan and figure it why you need to create them, it’s not just create things because you can, depending on the application this virtual infrastructure will support, you need to define what your virtual IT architecture will be –

In my previous note about Neutron I’ve mentioned how Neutron brings Layer 3 capabilities and how easy is to create and manage it. Now I will describe the magic behind, I’m sure you will love it as I do. All this thing about Software Defined Network is been fully applied with OpenStack Neutron and its most used third party Plug-in: OpenVSwitch

First of all, I want to mention there’s a lot of information from vendors and community contributors:

Let’s start describing what is happening inside a Nova Compute Host with Neutron and OpenVSwitch. You have the instances where all the traffic ends or starts. These instances have ethernet virtual interfaces attached called tap devices and where these instances define logical interfaces as an “eth0“. these tap devices are directly connected to a Linux Bridge where OpenStack Security Groups are defined through iptables. This linux bridge acts like a transparent firewall to every instance – you have only one security group associated to only one instance -. A linux bridge are processes that include iptables running inside an associated Linux Network Stack – A Network stack includes the minimal network resources to be able to connect through layer 3 or 2 to any other system –

neutron openstack openvswitch router dnsmasq gre kionetworks plug-in tap devices instances nova compute software defined networks sdn cloud layer 1

OpenVSwitch Bridges are not compatible to this Linux Bridge, then we’ve defined on our architecture a pair or interfaces called qbr and qvo.  qbr is directly connected to the Linux Bridge and qvo is connected to the Integration Bridge. The Integration Bridge is part of the OpenVSwitch solution and it’s responsible to tag and un-tag with VLAN IDs all network traffic come in and out from/to the instances. Also is responsible to communicate all the instances that belong to the same tenant or lead the traffic out the Tunnel Bridge and then to external network components.

neutron openstack openvswitch router dnsmasq gre kionetworks plug-in tap devices instances nova compute software defined networks sdn cloud layer 2

Tunnel Bridge (br-tun) is connected to the Integration Bridge (br-int) through the patch-in interfaces. The OpenFlow rules about how to setup the traffic in the tunnels to run on top of the br-tun. the tunnels are defined through GRE and there is an association between every VLAND ID and a GRE Tunnel ID.

neutron openstack openvswitch router dnsmasq gre kionetworks plug-in tap devices instances nova compute software defined networks sdn cloud layer 3

Top of Rack and Core Cloud Switching

All Hosts (controller, compute, network, etc.) are connected to a core cloud network compose by high-performance switches. The good thing about this architecture controlling all data through virtual resources is all these switches are just providing transportation through layer 2. You don’t need VLANs more than the main ones to split the traffic between internal and external frames  – probably no more than couple of these ones-

You don’t need advanced licenses for Routing, GRE, Security… all these components are provided by Neutron and OpenVSwitch. There isn’t lock-in with any vendor – at least you start using some specific plug-ins to manage some control features by hardware or specific appliances -. Then, you are able to use product for different known vendors that can offer a powerful data backplane to transport an big amount of data with the lowest latency.

neutron openstack openvswitch router dnsmasq gre kionetworks plug-in tap devices instances nova compute software defined networks sdn cloud layer 4

Neutron Network Host

Neutron Host or Hosts are independent servers where all the more advanced network service and components  are running (Routers, DHCP, External Firewalls, etc.). All the traffic to the External Network (or Internet) through the GRE tunnels from the Nova Servers ends at the br-tun defined by Neutron Hosts. br-tun has the OpenFlow rules that define the match between VLAN IDs and GRE Tunnels IDs, and all this conversion processes, between VLAN and GRE, occurs at this bridge. This Bridge is connected to the integration bridge (br-int) inside Neutron through the patch-in interfaces.

neutron openstack openvswitch router dnsmasq gre kionetworks plug-in tap devices instances nova compute software defined networks sdn cloud layer 5

As the Host Node, br-int is un-tagging and tagging the traffic, but in this case, to/from routers and dnsmasq resources. routers and dnsmasq are independent namespaces with their own Linux Network Stack. Namespaces helps to manage traffic with overlapping private IPs between different routers associated to different tenants or projects. Routers helps to route traffic between tenant’s subnets and also to/from the external World. Also routers are using Linux iptables to filter traffic and also to make floating IP works through NAT (Network Address Translation) to chosen instances. dnsmasq is also working on a Linux Network Stack with DHCP and DNS processes serving exclusively to the associated tenant.

neutron openstack openvswitch router dnsmasq gre kionetworks plug-in tap devices instances nova compute software defined networks sdn cloud layer 6

Important tips to design Neutron+OVS Architectures

Neutron is containing router, basic/advanced network and security services, then almost all data goes through these hosts. size these servers with as much memory you can. Memory is the most used resource for this processes. Consider to have at least two server with equal configuration, to use one of them as stand-by for any issue on the main one.

It’s really important to consider high performance switches, a big amount of data is transported between nodes, use at least two levels design for cloud switching and manage the traffic trying to keep instances of the same tenant in the same cabinet – almost all the traffic will be keep it inside the Top of Rack Switch

Well, this is it, see you next time!

19 thoughts on “There’s Real Magic behind OpenStack Neutron

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