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Metaswitch opens NFV code as Project Calico

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UK-based network function virtualisation outfit Metaswitch has slung a chunk of its software into the open source world with the launch of Project Calico.

The company says Project Calico, here, aims to take SDN principles to Layer 3 instead of Layer 2. The reason for this? Metaswitch claims that Layer 2-based OpenStack implementations demand a lot of expertise in overlay networks like Ethernet VLANs, and a lot of work with encapsulation.

Ethernet VLANs can also hit scaling limits in big cloud data centres, while approaches like VXLAN, GRE, and SDN-controlled flows are both complex and processor-heavy.

Instead, Metaswitch wants to get Project Calico adopted into OpenStack as “the framework for orchestrated IP routing in between virtual machines (VMs) and host machines, along with intra and inter-data centre interconnects.”

Internet-based routing techniques (including the venerable BGP) are, the company contends, a better way to put the in-data-centre network together for high performance and large scale. The company also believes Project Calico could also help with NFV (network function virtualisation) adoption, by enabling more lightweight virtualisation than that supported in OpenStack.

Metaswitch told LightReading that lightweight virtualisation techniques (which don't require a complete machine image including OS for each instance) make sense for NFV operations, since machines can host more instances than if each instance needed a full OpenStack VM.

So the company hopes the project can act as the connector between lightweight containerised functions, those running in fully-fledged VMs, and those running on physical switches.

The initial version of Calico runs on a recent Ubuntu with OpenStack installed. ®

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