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Project Calico said the code will help secure and speed up connections between virtual machines on networks

Project Calico said the code will help secure and speed up connections between virtual machines

Networking technology vendor Metaswitch Networks announced the formation of Project Calico, which will focus on developing an open source networking virtualisation solution it claims will help enable the implementation of large, cloud datacentre infrastructures as IP-based starts to account for the majority of network traffic.

The code released by Metaswitch lets virtualised network functions communicate without the complexity and limitations of VLANs or overlay schemes, accelerating data speeds and simplifying network management.

Metaswitch said Calico will focus on taking Layer 3 approaches to networking common to  techniques used by the web-scale cloud giants and make them available to smaller cloud datacentre operators, in a bid to overcome some of the scaling and performance limitations associated with Layer 2 techniques.

According to the company Calico will integrate with the cloud orchestration systems like OpenStack to enable secure IP communication between virtual machines. As VMs are spun up or destroyed their IP addresses become visible to the rest of the network and they are able to send and receive data over IP just as they would with the native networking implementation, but Calico aims to tweak the virtual network control pane to make these connections more scalable and performant.

At the moment the code is compliant with the latest OpenStack release, Icehouse, and its development is being folded into Metaswitch’s Neuron Initiative which the company believes the initiative will help catalyse NFV deployment among network operators. Metaswitch is currently the only vendor signed up to the initiative but spokespeople for Ubuntu, Flynn and Bloomberg LP have all praised Calico as an exciting project that could help bring

“The largest Internet-based companies in the world are building hyper-scale data centers that are virtualizing at Layer 3, and that approach makes a lot of sense,” said Martin Taylor, Metaswitch’s chief technical officer.

“With Project Calico, we’ve made it possible to build cloud connectivity so that it looks a lot like Internet connectivity. Project Calico integrates seamlessly with the cloud orchestration system, such as OpenStack, to enable secure IP communication between virtual machines and, in doing so, it provides an approach to virtual networking that is scalable, efficient and simple.”

Taylor said that while only OpenStack is support the company has plans to support “every possible virtualisation environment”, though no word on whether it will work with containerisation technologies like Docker.

The move to open source the NFV technique comes at a time when many vendors and trade organisations are working to accelerate deployment of SDN and NFV technologies. Last month the Optical Interworking Forum (OIF), an industry group uniting the data and optical networking sectors including carriers, component manufacturers and system vendors, said that it will soon start work on a specification for Virtual Network Services (VNS).

The forum said it intends to look at potential classification of VNS depending on the customer or application needs for varying levels of control of their virtual network resources.