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Stanford University Networking Seminar


Ben Pfaff and Justin Pettit (VMware)
OVN: An SDN System for Virtual Networking

12:15pm, Thursday, January 19 2017
Gates 104

About the Talk

About two years ago, the Open vSwitch team started a new subproject called Open Virtual Network or OVN. OVN implements virtual versions of physical network functions such as switching, routing, and firewalling. When physical machines are moved into cloud environments as virtual machines, this allows their physical network topologies to be virtualized as well. This “network virtualization” also allows cloud-native applications to take advantage of microsegmentation and other features.

This talk will focus on distinctive aspects of the OVN design that help to keep it simple, reliable, and high-performance. We will cover how and why OVN uses a database instead of a message bus, how OVN uses “logical flows” to implement most of its features and how these improve on OpenFlow flows, and why OVN does not have a central controller. We will also speculate on how OVN might be useful in an academic research setting.

About the Speaker

Ben Pfaff is a lead developer of the Open vSwitch project. He was a co-creator of OpenFlow and led the development effort of the original OpenFlow reference implementation. He was a founding employee at Nicira and is currently at VMware. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 2007. Ben has worked in free and open source software projects, including Debian and GNU, for over 20 years.

Justin Pettit is a software developer at VMware. Justin joined VMware through the acquisition of Nicira, at which he was a founding employee. He was one of the original authors of the OpenFlow Standard, working on both the specification and reference implementation. He is one of the lead developers of Open vSwitch and OVN. Prior to Nicira, Justin worked at three successful startups focused on network security. While completing his Master’s degree in Computer Science at Stanford, he worked on research that became the basis for the OpenFlow Standard and software-defined networking.