The ICCLab at the European Conference on Networks – EUCNC 2014

Last week, the European Conference on Networks took place in Bologna Italy at the Palazzo della Cultura e dei Congressi. The Conference was having a strong focus on 5G (5th generation wireless systems) technologies and how 5G will affect the technological foundation and as well the social aspects. The impact of 5G to the society was often mention and discussed in the various panels and talks. The explanations, what impact 5G to social aspects and the society will have in the future, were all more a rational to constitute the rise of the amount of the bandwidth that 5G will bring. The almost incredible amount of bandwidth and the extreme low latency will offer a new spectrum of mobile applications – especially in the area of real-time applications.

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First Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Concertation Workshop

Brussels 30th January 2014

The first Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Concertation Workshop took place in Brussels with the aim, to maximize the opportunity for Europe to benefit from SDN research. All the participants showed their current and future research projects in the area of SDN related to the following topics:

  • Share their latest SDN-related research results and achievements;
  • Raise awareness within the FIRE community and beyond of their research;
  • Exploit project synergies by sharing best practices;
  • Identify common gaps/challenges for future investigation.

Because of the strong relation to the FIRE project, there were a lot of discussion about the existing and future of SDN-testbeds. Regarding this discussion the following two presentations are highlighted here in this post:

The OFELIA project currently operates multiple OpenFlow sites where this sites are managed by GENI  – what is a controller framework. Regarding this, GEANT is also jumping on the Testbed market. GEANT presented their solution for TaaS (Testbed as a Service) that is, at the moment, not compatible to existing OpenFlow sites because of the differences in the controller framework.

Philipp Aeschlimann from the ICCLab gave a talk about the role of SDN in NFV and how this is implemented in the MCN project.

SDN Group Switzerland

sdn_logo_bg_whiteThe ICCLab believes in the future for Software Defined Networking for Data centers as well as for using SDN inside a common cloud cluster. We will be runnging regular meetings with the goal of exchanging knowledge and ideas with others. For more information you can join the LinkedIn Group or contact one of the chairs directly: Irena Trajkovska or Kurt Baumann. At the moment we do not follow specific topics related to SDN but we try to lead by the following mission:

  • Independent Consortium

  • Interests in Network Architecture and network application development following the SDN paradigm and related technologies.

  • Exchanging new ideas, meeting regular periods as well as collaboration for projects

First meeting of the SDN Group Switzerland at SWITCH

The first meeting of the SDN Group Switzerland took place at SWITCH, organized by Philipp Aeschlimann from the ICCLab and Kurt Baumann from SWITCH. There were close to 40 participants from Universities around Switzerland with the goal, to bring researchers and campus IT operators on one table and talk about SDN.


The talks were targeting a wide range of topics along the research theme SDN:

  • Privacy Proxy (ETHZ, Bernhard Ager)
  • Outsourcing the Routing Control Logic (ETHZ, Xenofontas Dimitropoulos)

  • Lab Experiences with OpenFlow (SDN) (ETHZ, Derk-Jan Valenkamp)
  • A framework inspired by Chemical-reaction networks (UniBas, Manolis Siflakis)
  • Proposal, a new abstraction of a network, fault tolerant and heavily automation (EPFL, Maciej Kuzniar)
  • SDNs and Cloud Computing for the Swiss academic community (SWITCH, Simon Leinen)
  • QoS with OpenFlow for OpenStack on the wire (ZHAW, Philipp Aeschlimann)
  • Software-Defined Service-Centric Networking (UniBE, Torsten Braun)
  • OFELIA Testbed for Experimentation with OpenFlow/SDN (ETHZ, Vasileios Kotronis)

The SDN Group Switzerland was having a good start along with this topics and for the second meeting is planned at ZHAW in Winterthur we will keep the good mix between research and operational SDN tasks. A further goal is to invite also industrial partners. If you are interested in the SDN Group Switzerland, join the linkedIn group or contact one of the two chairs of the group directly (Philipp Aeschlimann or Kurt Baumann). The periode in we want to have meetings are 3 months and a blog with the topics will be created soon. From the ICCLab attended Piyush Harsh, Thomas Michael Bohnert, Antonio Cimmino and Philipp Aeschlimann. If you are intrested in the SDN research topics of the ICCLab, there will be multiple options for you:

A learning Switch in OpenFlow 1.3

So this is our second post about a learning Switch and as promised, it covers OpenFlow 1.3. Before we go into the details, this is what you should already know about SDN and OpenFlow:

  • General SDN Paradigm, otherwise go and read this
  • A common understanding about what OpenFlow is in contrast to SDN
  • What a simple learning switch is

What we are discussing in this post is the simple switch implementation that comes out of the LINC – OpenFlow software switch project as well as some basic principals from the latest OpenFlow Protocol (OFP) specification made by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). One of the most important things you should know about OFP 1.3.x is the so called “table pipe-lining”. In previous versions of OFP there was a FlowTable in an OpenFlow enabled switch and that table stored the logic of how traffic flows through the network. Furthermore, a SDN-Controller jumps into the game when a packet that arrives at the switch doesn’t match any of the entries in the FlowTable. If this happens, we call it a “table-miss” and the switch sends the packet to the SDN-Controller. Now consider the following: In OpenFlow 1.3.x you not only have one FlowTable in an OpenFlow enabled switch, but there are as many FlowTables as the switch supports and the process how this multiple FlowTables are handled by OpenFlow is called the “table pipe-lining”. The inital behaviour isn’t that much different. If the packet arrives at the switch, the packet is always compared to the FlowTableEntries in the first the – table-0.

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Software Defined Networking for Clouds


Software Defined Networking (SDN) is a technology that has introduced an important paradigm shift in the networking world. With the OpenFlow protocol as a main technological enabler, the essential goal is to extend the conventional network configuration approach by introducing the concept of network control and programmability.

The advances in the OpenFlow protocol and the strong community involved in the OpenDaylight (ODL) framework has significantly leveraged SDN over the past few years, which booked it a ticket as a de-facto technology in the datacenter network management journey. To follow this initiative, OpenStack has been a pioneer technology that urged to provide a direct SDN support for Neutron. Such approach has introduced new challenges arising from the direct mapping of network traffic between the physical hosts and the virtual tenant networks.

Identifying scenarios that embrace different issues to consider, has a high priority in the current SDN world. With the main focus on SDN-managed datacenter networks, this initiative will provide a technical implementation and know-how on managing cloud-based network resources in a straightforward manner.


The “SDN for clouds at the ICCLab” mission involves: establishing use cases, revealing potential issues, analyzing alternative approaches and optimizations in order to achieve efficient networking for classical datacenters, network carriers, Internet Service Providers and Cloud providers. The tasks to achieve this include:

  • Provide on-demand, scalable, commodity deployment to facilitate SDN knowledge transfer to academia and business partners
  • Provide Network as a Service for the tenants
  • Monitor and optimize intra-cloud-traffic
  • Automate changing flows with the SDN-controller
  • Minimize complexity of the network logic
  • Efficient handling of QoS and QoE network parameters
  • Independent network-hardware vendors

Research Challenges

The on-going technology and protocols applied to cloud networking are not optimal in terms of resource usage, reliability, deployment and maintenance. For example, the current implementation of Open Stack Neutron relies on different tunnelling mechanisms in order to provide isolation and multi-tenancy support. From a network application developer point of view, this is inefficient since it injects additional overhead and impedes a transparent application development.

To address the issues in that context, we define the following research tasks:

  • Reconsider the current concepts and state of the art proposals and determine a sophisticated solution towards optimized SDN design for modern cloud architectures
  • Define competitive use cases as direct controllers and evaluators of our SDN solution
  • Provide a high level framework for management of cloud based network resources in a uniform manner

Relevance to current and future markets

Having in-house deployment implies an up and running environment prepared to leverage ideas deployed and tested over commodity-hardware. The ICCLab SDN testbed will essentially facilitate the validation of use cases towards comprehensive solutions. The high-level framework on top of the ODL controller will provide smart virtual datacenter management in OpenStack deployments, and potentially target industry partners among the content delivery network companies, like Akamai for example, IPTV and streaming service providers. We also aim to expand the cooperation by exchanging technical expertise with industry partners involved in the SDN-Cloud field.


Articles and Info

Contact Point

Irena Trajkovska –



ICCLab Retreat and Sledging Event – the Report

What does a sledge and a strategy have in common? Simple, the ICCLab Retreat and Sledging Event which took place in Lenzerheide – Switzerland last weekend. The event started 06:45 in Winterthur and yes, the team demonstrated impressively that this time is also at Saturdays no problem. When we arrived at the coach, there was the first problem to solve with the coach-driver that was: How to divided an IT-scientist from his notebook? Because all sort of bags were not allowed in the coach and beside that, also no drinks and food. But of course, we managed it and realized that not everything can be as elastic and flexible as a Cloud.


Once arrived at the Lenzerheide, the hotel Valbella-Inn welcomed us warmly and the booked conference room was well prepared by the hotel. After the introduction of the retreat meeting by Thomas  Michael Bohnert and the review of the year 2012, we also discussed where the ICCLab should go in 2013. In addition to the objectives of the individual themes and initiatives, all members have the same idea about where should be the ICCLab end 2013th. The ICCLab should be seen by public as a competence center for cloud computing and all the related technologies to it. Once the meeting was over, the sledging competition started with Andy Edmonds as referee. As it is in Ski-Alpine, we had a first and a second run and after the latter the winner was clear, Christof Marti has won both runs. After the sledging, we enjoyed a very typically Swiss drink available in most Ski resorts in Graubünden and is called the “Schümlipflümli”. The Retreat and Sledging Event was a success and the whole team is looking forward to the next years sledging competition because one or the other wants to have a revenge versus the current ICCLab sledging master.

Installing Gitorious on Solaris SPARC

Recently we setup a server for version-control that can be used for internal and external projects here at the ICCLab. However, the service will not be available for public but the following hints may help you if you want to setup a similar appliance. Actually is gitorious our second choice, originally we want to use gitlabhq for this but gitlabhq uses the Google V8 JavaScript engine which will not compile on SPARC architecture. Here is a brief comparison of github (not gitlab) vs gitorious.

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SDN – OpenFlow Presentation to the IT-MAS students

Last Friday Philipp from the ICCLab gave a presentation about SDN and OpenFlow to ZHAW master students. The big difference is that the average age of the students is higher and all of them are working for many years in the field of IT. Furthermore, most of them have a leading position in their daily work. The content of the presentation is not that detailed an covers basically the two whitepapers from the ONF and about SDN and OpenFlow. We also talked about the available products in the field of OpenFlow controllers and why SDN in general is such an important thing for the datacenter providers, ISP’s or Carrier Ethernet.

The discussion we had after the presentation contained also some critical voices that addressed problems like:

  • OK, we are vendor independent and have full control over the network but this means also, that we are responsible for it.
  • Is it not easier for SME’s to have a ready made network component from e.g. Cisco instead of programming the logic by themselves?
  • The centralized network controller looks like a single point of failure and without the network, most business applications will not work.
  • Will the programmed network logic inside the controller not bee a huge bunch of code that was before distributed and small on every device?

Of course, we can answer the questions and solve these problems with the SDN paradigm. But the conclusion for us is that we can only get these people on board if we not only talk about SDN concepts but present demonstrators.  What we need at this point are:

  • Concrete working pieces of code and open working network logic that is tested and maintained as e.g. spanning-tree modules.
  • Testbeds and use-cases for implementation, migration and operation.
  • Fully functional and easy to implement network controller modules.

Such people as the master students are needed because they are and/or will be the decision makers. It is also not enough to say: “Look, Google uses it in their wide area network.”

Integration and migration of our existing network infrastructure is exactly what we are planning to do at the ICCLab. I hope that more people will share their knowledge and experience about a successful migration of their classical network to a SDN based infrastructure.

1st Swiss OpenStack User Group Meeting

The 1st Swiss OpenStack user group meeting that was organized by the zhgeeks and the ICCLab at the ETH Zürich met with a large response. Over 90 people attended the meeting with different background and interests in connection with OpenStack.


The meeting started with a good and brief introduction into the components and the community around OpenStack by Tim Bell and how it is used in CERN, the largest OpenStack cluster in Switzerland. The subsequent lightning talks, each about 10 minutes, covered different aspects in the current usage and development of OpenStack, including two from the ICCLab. We described our OpenStack testbed and also the topical area of software defined networking.

The slides and short abstracts about the introduction and lightning talks can be found on the official Swiss Openstack Usergroup Wiki.