IBM Contributes to Sub-Second Cloud Provisioning Technology

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Scientists from IBM, AT&T, and Applied Communication Sciences (ACS) have announced a proof-of-concept for technology that reduces set-up times for cloud-to-cloud connectivity from days to seconds. This advance is a major step forward that could one day lead to sub-second provisioning time with IP and next-generation optical networking equipment and enables elastic bandwidth between clouds at high connection request rates using intelligent cloud data center orchestrators, instead of requiring static provisioning for peak demand.

“This technology not only represents a new ability to scale big data workloads and cloud computing resources in a single environment but the elastic bandwidth model removes the inefficiency in consumption versus cost for cloud-to-cloud connectivity,” said Douglas Freimuth, IBM Research senior technical staff member and master inventor. “IBM Research brought a unique understanding of both cloud environments and networking infrastructures which made us an ideal collaborator for this project.”

The prototype was built with contributions and expertise from AT&T, IBM and ACS, and the work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Government’s DARPA CORONET program, which focuses on rapid reconfiguration of terabit networks.

IBM provided the cloud platform and intelligent cloud data center orchestration technologies to support dynamic provisioning of cloud-to-cloud communications.  AT&T was responsible for developing the overall networking architecture for this concept, drawing on its bandwidth-on-demand  technologies and advanced routing concepts. ACS contributed its expertise in network management and innovation in optical-layer routing and signaling as part of the overall cloud networking architecture.

The prototype was implemented on OpenStack, an open-source cloud-computing platform for public and private clouds, elastically provisioning WAN connectivity and placing virtual machines between two clouds for the purpose of load balancing virtual network functions. The use of flexible, on-demand bandwidth for cloud applications, such as load balancing, remote data center backup operation, and elastic scaling of workload, provides the potential for major cost savings and operational efficiency for both CSPs and carriers.

In the demonstration, the IBM cloud platform and orchestration technology manages the life cycle of Virtual Machine (VM) network applications on OpenStack software to automatically monitor server load and request both cloud-to-cloud network bandwidth from a SDN WAN Orchestrator developed by AT&T and compute resources as needed for VM migration. The AT&T SDN WAN Orchestrator automatically routes data server connection requests across the appropriate network layer: IP/MPLS, subwavelength or Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM). Rapid, robust provisioning protocols developed by ACS are integrated with commercial transport DWDM network elements to set up and tear down connections as needed 

In the demo, setup times as short as 40 seconds were achieved, with sub-second provisioning times possible with next generation DWDM equipment (called ROADMs). This approach also takes BoD into a truly dynamic regime, by enabling the high-connection request rates that will be required in future cloud service environments.

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