Metaswitch Intros Routing by Microservices


By: Michael Vizard

Metaswitch today announced a portfolio of Composable Network Protocols (CNP) that can be used to create an open routing platform using microservices.

In addition, Metaswitch revealed today that Dell EMC will incorporate CNP IP routing and MPLS networking stacks from Metaswitch in EMC OS10 Open Edition, a distribution of Linux-based network operating system that Dell EMC makes available as an option on its platforms. CNP microservices are deployed as a set of binary application on top an operating system.

Why is this important? It's an interesting approach that separates the routing control plane from the networking hardware -- enabling any white box to adapt Metaswitch routing and switching services using microservices that can be run on top of standard Linux operating systems.

The composable microservices are packaged together to make it simpler for an IT organization to build and deploy white box switches, says Simon Dredge, director of technical marketing for Metaswitch. These services can be exposed via application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be invoked by any control plane an organization chooses to implement. Dredge says Metaswitch expects that control plane will be employed to federate the management of multiple switches that could be a small as a Raspberry Pi device deployed in an Internet of Things (IoT) environment.

“There’s now quite a lot of compute power at the edge,” says Dredge.

Because so much of the compute power runs on disparate platforms, the need to disaggregate networking from the underlying hardware has never been more pronounced, adds Dredge.

Microservices advance that disaggregation trend by making possible for organizations to build their own custom network stack. It’s unclear to what degree the entire network operating system will one day become a set of federated microservices. But for now, routing protocols are heading in that direction.

Of course, it still requires a fair amount of engineering skill to employ microservices to drive network services. But as providers of networking services gain more confidence in their programming skills it’s now only a matter of time before they join other developers that have embraced microservices to build better software faster.