InCNTRE partners with Beijing Internet Institute

“Honestly, SDN is a very difficult subject for networking people because it is a new paradigm and a new way of doing things,” said Uwe Dahlmann, lead test engineer at the Indiana Center for Network Translational Research and Education (InCNTRE) Software-Defined Networking (SDN) Interoperability Lab. 

In recent years, Dahlmann has become something of an evangelist for the new internet infrastructure management movement. Previously, he could be found managing national and international networks for a private company in the alternative energy sector, and designing voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems for the University of Mainz in Germany. 

His latest pilgrimage took him to the Beijing Internet Institute (BII), the first international OpenFlow conformance lab. BII now joins InCNTRE and the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab at the forefront of the Internet’s evolution.

“Their hospitality was incredible, and their staff was very dedicated and focused on SDN and OpenFlow training. We spent time on a wide range of topics, including preparing, running and understanding test tools. We discussed, in depth, the customization of existing test code for specific test cases,” said Dahlmann.  “I have the highest respect for their abilities.” 

Dahlmann was quick to add that the trip was not all work and no play. “My hosts were also very generous and took me to see the Forbidden City one afternoon,” he said of his mid-November sojourn to Beijing, China. “I had a great experience.” 

BII requested Dahlmann’s visit, so they could learn how to use tools and interpret tests pioneered by the InCNTRE SDN Lab. As the home to the world’s first Open Networking Foundation (ONF) conformance lab, InCNTRE has developed the tests, tools, and specifications that enable engineers to determine if a device is compliant with OpenFlow standards. Reports documenting and requesting ONF conformance certification were also part of the BII training. 

One of the main takeaways of Dahlmann’s training seminar was the concept that an OpenFlow test is more akin to software testing than strict network protocol testing. As Dahlmann notes, testing for ONF conformance is not merely “running a test and getting a green light – it is more like running something and getting a light that is flickering, and you need to look in to the real data and look into the specifications and really decide is that behavior acceptable or not.”

Dahlmann said the fruitful partnership between BII and InCNTRE will continue in the future, though that is largely dependent upon the ONF and how the fledgling conformance testing program develops.