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The Open Ethernet Software Approach

The Open Ethernet software approach is architected to provide the freedom to choose and the flexibility to create any software application on any hardware platform. There are no restrictions for these applications; they can be open-source, community-development applications, SDN applications, commercial applications or home-grown applications, etc. By adopting this approach, every Open Ethernet platform enables vendor differentiation with no limitations.

Open Ethernet OS and SDK

All software developed for the Open Ethernet systems runs on top of a hardware platform. The hardware may be bare-metal, but in most cases the hardware manufacturer provides a pre-ported operating system (usually Linux) and a software development kit.

Being a community-based, open source OS, Interfacing the Linux operating system is in most cases trivial for most applications. Same approach must be applied for the SDK.

The SDK provides the functionality to drive and control the hardware. To allow any software application to interface any hardware platform, the SDK exposes Open API - a standard, open interface that allows integration into any Open Ethernet protocol and application. The Open API is open for the community to use, maintain or upgrade.

Open Ethernet Software Components

Interfacing the OS and the Open API are several planes – data plane, management plane and control plane. There is full flexibility to choose the blocks for each plane for the target application.

In most cases, the data plane that is already provided by the integration of the hardware, the operating system and the SDK is optimized for performance and efficiency. Given this, changes to the data plane would require OS changes (by the community) or SDK changes (by the hardware manufacturer).

The management plane configures, provisions and monitors the system. Examples may be vendor-developed tools, such as CLI or GUI, or open-source tools, such as Puppet, Chef and others. Naturally, multiple management interfaces can co-exist in the system.

The control plane includes the applications that configure the data flow through the Open Ethernet system. Like in the management plane, it can be built of vendor-developed applications or from open-source applications. An example for such open-source applications is OpenFlow, which provides flow management and monitoring interface from a remote controller through an agent that is integrated in the system. Another example is Quagga, a routing management stack, that is integrated into the system.