For several years now, SURFnet has been working on providing access to cloud services via light paths connected to the NetherLight light path hub. These efforts also extend to European level, where the Open Cloud eXchange (OCX) principle is being developed as part of the GÉANT European research infrastructure. At the SuperComputing conference, we’ll be demonstrating how an institution (UvA) can set up a light path and use it to spin up a virtual machine in a single step and with no intervention whatsoever.
Light paths in Europe and around the world and Open Exchanges such as NetherLight enable institutions to use cloud services offered by providers both in the Netherlands and abroad. When a cloud service provider is connected to NetherLight, institutions can purchase their services and gain all the familiar benefits of light paths:
- a fast point-to-point connection,
- with a guaranteed bandwidth,
- separate from the Internet.
Plus, light paths’ great flexibility in use makes it seem as though the cloud services are integrated right into the local network domain.
Light path: Setting up your own light path and spinning up a virtual machine
At the SuperComputing conference in New Orleans on 16-20 November, we’ll be demonstrating how an institution – the University of Amsterdam (UvA) – can set up a light path and spin up a virtual machine within that light path in a single step and with no intervention whatsoever. In this case, that will be with the Dutch cloud service provider Kentis. All the UvA has to do is decide how many virtual machines they want and the specifications (CPU, RAM, storage capacity, bandwidth, VLAN, etc.). The SURFnet software for on-demand light paths can then automatically configure the connection and deploy the virtual machine in the university’s network!
Distributed transcoding of 4K film
The demo in New Orleans will pick up where the Open Cloud eXchange demo at the TERENA Networking Conference (TNC) in Ireland last May left off. In the initial demo, we also provisioned/started virtual machines by setting up light paths from the University of Amsterdam to the GRnet (Greek NREN) OCX platform and the SWITCH (Swiss NREN) OCX platform via NetherLight. At that time, there was a choice of machines from two service providers: Cloud Sigma in Switzerland and Okeanos in Greece. Then it was simply a matter of spinning up the machines in the UvA’s network domain. The machines were then sent bits of a 4K film to be transcoded (= convert to a different format) in real-time. Aside from a lot of computing power, this process also requires substantial bandwidth. The demo provided a great example of the OCX principle in opening up a marketplace where research and education have a wide selection of light path-based cloud service providers to choose from.
SuperComputing demo: On-demand light paths and multiple parties
To really showcase the OCX model’s functionalities, the demo in New Orleans will be expanded to include more cloud service providers and users. Users are offered more choice in where to spin up the virtual machines that will ultimately be deployed in their own campus domain. And cloud service provider Kentis (Dutch)will be the first provider in the OCX project to feature on-demand light paths, making it possible for users to quickly set up light paths and launch virtual machines themselves. This will be done ‘underwater’ using the NSI protocol, which is being developed in the OpenGridForum (OGF) and is aimed at enabling multi-domain dynamic configuration of light paths.
Using light paths to connect cloud services to a light path exchange like NetherLight benefits everyone. Institutions can more easily purchase a growing number of cloud services, such as computing capacity, storage and Unified Communications, from third parties. And NetherLight’s expanding range of service providers also promotes competition, which benefits those purchasing the services. For service providers, it’s also a great solution: once connected to NetherLight, potential customers can quickly and easily set up light paths to that provider.
Planning to attend the SuperComputing Conference in New Orleans on 16-10 November? Stop by the SURF booth #3751 to see this demo live! To find out more about SURF light paths and the NetherLight open light path exchange, see www.surf.nl.