Ronny Lam


Remembering the Management Plane

I have to look into this, since the title of this post caught my attention.

Networking folks often think of any network device as having a control plane and a data plane. Sadly, the management plane has been all too often neglected. OVSDB is a protocol that was created to address that important but neglected aspect of networking. We think that making networks dramatically easier to manage is in fact one of the major benefits of network virtualization.

The OVSDB Internet draft doesn’t go far enough in my opinion. It is a central database to Open vSwitch, which is in itself not very difficult to manage, since the amount of operations is very limited. Besides that, some initial configuration still has to be done on the vSwitches.

My proposal would be to take this concept a bit further and create a single management plane not only for vSwitches, but also for non-vSwitches and even routers. Managing the whole network from one single interface would be the ideal solution to manage large scale networks. That would require not only integration of the management plane, but also the control plane and some control protocols like routing protocols, including ip-management.

I hope some day the big vendors can agree on such protocols. Openflow, OF-config and OVSDB are a step in the right direction, but they are still spot solutions and not able to manage everything. Untill now we saw multiple initiatives for central management protocols fail. Why? My guess is market protection.

At NetYCE we have already built such a single interface to a whole multi-vendor network. To overcome the multi-vendor challenges we have to interface with and translate to the different CLI’s. Can you imagine how our life would change with one management plane?