Open Networking Put To The Test

UNH-IOL plugfest produces list of interoperable combinations of networking gear based on Open Compute Project specs.

If you've been eyeing open networking but remain skeptical, operators of a testing initiative at the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab hope to convince you otherwise.

The UNH-IOL recently published an Open Networking Integrators List, a public directory of validated, interoperable combinations of networking gear based on specifications from the Open Compute Project. The list shows the results of interoperability and conformance testing of networking products that started in earnest with an open networking plugfest at the lab in September.

Devices tested included 10 and 40 Gigabit Ethernet switches, network operating systems, optical modules, active optical cables, and direct attached copper cables. Twelve vendors participated, including Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks, HP, Accton, 3M, and Mellanox.

The testing, which is ongoing, is a collaborative effort between UNH-IOL and the OCP Networking Project.

David Woolf, UNH-IOL senior engineer for data center technologies, said the Open Networking Integrator's List is designed to boost confidence in open networking by proving that the components work together.

"The list will give people the information they need to encourage them to take a serious look at open networking," Woolf said.

Data center network operators taking advantage of the list will still have to do their own hot staging before deploying and running their applications on the tested systems, but they'll have the assurance of interoperability, Woolf said.

The testing process for the list includes making sure a NOS can be installed on a white-box switch using OCP's Open Network Install Environment (ONIE), then running two identical switches with the same NOS, connecting them using a single type of pluggable module and running traffic to look for dropped packets and other issues.