Ready, Set, Action. Enhanced Platform Awareness in OpenStack for Line Rate NFV

By: Frank Schapfel

One of challenges in deploying Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is creating the right software management of the virtualized network.  There are differences between managing an IT Cloud and a Telco Cloud.  IT Cloud providers take advantage of centralized and standardized servers in large scale data centers.  IT Cloud architects aim to maximize the utilization (efficiency) of the servers and automate the operations management.  In contrast, Telco Cloud application workloads are different from IT Cloud workloads.  Telco Cloud application workloads have real-time constraints, government regulatory constraints, and network setup and teardown constraints.  New tools are needed to build a Telco Cloud to these requirements.

OpenStack is the open software community developing IT Cloud orchestration management since 2010.  The Telco service provider community of end users, telecomm equipment manufacturers (TEMs), and software vendors have rallied around adapting the OpenStack cloud orchestration for Telco Cloud.  Over the last few releases of OpenStack, the industry has been shaping and delivering Telco Cloud ready solutions. For now, let’s just focus on the real-time constraints. For IT Cloud, the data center is viewed as a large pool of compute resources that need to operate a maximum utilization, even to the point of over-subscription of the server resources. Waiting a few milliseconds is imperceptible to the end user.  On the other hand, a network is real-time sensitive – and therefore cannot tolerate over-subscription of resources.

To adapt OpenStack to be more Telco Cloud friendly, Intel contributed to the concept of “Enhanced Platform Awareness” to OpenStack. Enhanced Platform Awareness in OpenStack offers a fine-grained matching of virtualized network resources to the server platform capabilities.  Having a fine-grained view of the server platform allows the orchestration to accurately assign the Telco Cloud application workload to the best virtual resource.  The orchestrator needs NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Architecture) awareness so that it can understand how the server resources are partitioned, and how CPUs, IO devices, and memory are attached to sockets.  For instance, when workloads need line rate bandwidth, high speed memory access is critical, and huge page access is the latest technology in the latest Intel® Xeon™ E5-2600 v3 processor.

Now in action at the Oracle Industry Connect event in Washington, DC, Oracle and Intel demonstrate the collaboration using Enhanced Platform Awareness in OpenStack.  The Oracle Communications Network Service Orchestration uses OpenStack Enhanced Platform Awareness to achieve carrier grade performance for Telco Cloud. Virtualized Network Functions are assigned based on the needs for huge page access and NUMA awareness.  Other cloud workloads, which are not network functions, are not assigned specific server resources.

The good news – the Enhanced Platform Awareness contributions are already up-streamed in the OpenStack repository, and will be in the OpenStack Kilo release later this year.  At Oracle Industry Connect this week, there is a keynote, panel discussions and demos to get even further “under the hood.”  And if you want even more details, there is a new Intel White Paper: A Path to Line-Rate-Capable NFV Deployments with Intel® Architecture and the OpenStack® Juno Release.

Adapting OpenStack for Telco Cloud is happening now. And Enhanced Platform Awareness is finding its way into a real, carrier-grade orchestration solution.