ExoGENI New Features from Sep. 2013 upgrade

This post is intended to describe the new features available to ExoGENI users after the September 2013 upgrade.

The highlights

  • Support for storage slivering on RCI, BBN, FIU and UH racks. Experimenters now can add large iSCSI storage volumes to their slices by requesting them to be part of the slice topology.
  • New rack at University of Amsterdam (UvA-NL). This rack’s resources are contributed to the federation by the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It is based on Dell hardware (slightly different than the traditional IBM-based racks). Storage slivering will be enabled on it in the near future.
    • Due to maintenance on the transoceanic ACE link, this rack is unreachable until Oct. 1 2013.
  • We’re moving from disk-based to diskless images for bare-metal nodes to speed up boot times. RCI and BBN racks have been switched, we expect to switch all other racks in the coming weeks.
  • Support for Internet2-connected racks with dynamic connectivity. You can now use ExoGENI native stitching to create slices that span Internet2 connected racks, ExoGENI control software will create dynamic bandwidth-provisioned circuits in Internet2 infrastructure to support your slice. For example NICTA and UvA racks are connected to Internet2
    • NICTA rack in Australia is now fully reachable.
  • Any-to-any connectivity for all racks. Experimenters are no longer limited to creating multi-rack slices that span only RCI rack and some other racks. Full any-to-any dynamic connectivity is now available for both NLR and Internet2-connected racks using ExoGENI native stitching.
    • This capability is still experimental, we expect to improve it in the coming weeks.
  • Multi-point wide-area Layer 2 domains. It is now possible to create multipoint connections across both NLR and I2 to create inter-rack slices. The out-degree is currently limited to 5.
    • This capability is still experimental, we expect to improve it in the coming weeks.
  • Stitch ports. A new type of node called a ‘StichPort’ allows a slice to have an exit point into infrastructure not controlled by ExoGENI. It can be a lab, a super computer, a campus storage array.
  • User accounts – it is now possible to create user accounts on provisioned nodes as part of the slice creation process. Experimenters are not limited to root logins and can create accounts and pass SSH public keys for those accounts so their slivers are accessible by others, as desired.
    • The ability to create accounts requires ‘sudo’ command to be available on the image. Sudo is not available on all images. To allow users gain superuser access even on non-sudo instrumented images, ExoGENI always provides root access with the SSH key of the first user specified in createSliver call. 
  • New version of Flukes with support for storage slivering, user account creation, stitch portsand a number of other enhancements. Note that by default Flukes still enables root logins to slivers.
    • Be sure to retrieve the latest version of Flukes from here: http://geni-images.renci.org/webstart/flukes.jnlp
  • Compatibility enhancements with Flack/GENI Portal – it should now be possible to get unbound slices via Flack and also take advantage of ExoGENI native stitching within Flack for creating complex inter-rack topologies. Flack interface is limited to what is expressible through GENI RSpecs, and thus limits what is possible to do on ExoGENI.
  • Updated NEuca tools for VM images (v.1.3) which
    • Sets the host name to sliver name by default
    • Reports its version (neuca-version)
    • Reports any value for any key in the INI file (neuca-get [<section name; default assumed global>] [key name])
    • Automatically mounts storage provisioned in the slice (previous versions will not do that so dynamically provisioned storage slivers will remain unattached)
    • The image named ‘http://geni-images.renci.org/images/standard/debian/deb6-neuca-v1.0.9.xml’ in the image registry has this new version of NEuca tools. We expect to provide RPMs and DEBs for the NEuca tools for those interested in building their own images with these in a few days.

The details – Storage

This should give you the idea of what’s possible:

Slice with storage

Green volumes are iSCSI LUNs attached to the nodes in the topology. Experimenters can set the size, filesystem type, filesystem format parameters and mount point. Due to hardware limitations it is not possible to adjust the bandwidth on the links to the storage in the current racks, however this is a feature we plan to enable to racks where hardware allows for this. ExoGENI storage solution does not use OpenStack Cinder or any other middleware layer. User VMs are exposed directly to the iSCSI protocol to provide the lowest level access with the highest performance and lowest overhead.

Storage slivering is available through Flukes/ORCA API.

The details – connectivity

We’ve upgraded our hardware at the Raleigh PoP where NLR and I2 also have PoPs and extended the already robust ExoGENI native stitching engine, making it possible to dynamically create any-to-any VLANs within NLR FrameNet infrastructure and also transparently stitch them to Internet2 dynamic VLANs provisioned via the OSCARS system. This makes it possible to create unrestricted topologies between ExoGENI racks. As usual the limit is only on the number of available VLAN tags, which is dictated by network providers.

Additionally it is now possible to create multipoint Layer 2 connections between racks as shown in the picture below. This facility is limited to maximum of 5-way connections.

ExoGENI advanced stitching is available via both native Flukes/ORCA API and via GENI AM API. Multipoint support is available only via Flukes/ORCA API.

Multi-point Layer 2 connection between several racks.

The details – StitchPorts

In Flukes a stitch port is a new node type which requires two parameters – a URL of the port (available ports are listed in ExoGENI wiki) and a pre-agreed upon VLAN tag. The StitchPort is a point of handover for traffic from the slice to some static infrastructure. This means the slice dataplane no longer has to be a completely isolated closed network – it can have on-ramps into the real world. We’ve used it to create slices with hardware-in-the loop, to access static storage arrays or to access OpenScience Grid from a slice.

StitchPorts are available via Flukes/ORCA API.

StitchPort as OpenScience Grid On-ramp


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