Forget SDN controllers, think Configuration Management

Freek  Dijkstra
TrackLightning Talks Europaea Room
DescriptionSURFsara wants to automate its network, and has examined network controllers (e.g. Open Daylight, Tail-F, OpenNaaS). None did what we wanted, like vendor abstraction and authentication. Improving this would take a lot of effort.
We got to think: what protocol do we want between a controller and a switch?
Then it hit us: it's already there.
Now that we deployed bare metal / white label switches, most switches run the same network OS, such as Cumulus Linux or BigSwitch.
If they run Linux, why not maintain switches like a Linux cluster.
How does one maintain a Linux cluster?
With configuration management tools, like Ansible, Chef, Puppet, SaltStack or CfEngine.
We did that - run Cumulus Linux on management switches, use Ansible to configure them.
The nice thing about Ansible is that it supports traditional network operating systems, such as JunOS or EOS too.
Cons: Configuration management does not solve everything: we're still looking for a proper Northbound API, and for monitoring we still use traditional tools such as Icinga and Cacti (or Grafana).
Pros: We found that building on existing Configuration Management tools allowed us to get much faster result than building on existing Network Controllers.

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