Tag Archives: SDN

Juniper Northstar SDN Controller – Part 2

Following on my earlier blog on Northstar here: https://networkzblogger.com/2017/03/17/juniper-northstar-wan-sdn-controller, recently I got chance to work on next release of it which has among other things is ability to initiate P2MP (Point to Multipoint) LSPs. P2MPs are big use case in Media and Broadcast network and ability to create them via controller would be too helpful. However there is a catch. As discussed in my earlier blog, the NorthStar (NS) Controller relies on PCEP (Path Computation Element Protocol) to deploy a path between the PCC router and PCE (Controller). Currently P2MPs are not initiated by PCEP or its standard is not ratified. So Juniper have come up with another way of configuring it and that’s via Netconf. NETCONF provides mechanisms to install, manipulate, and delete the configuration of network devices. Its operations are realized on top of a simple Remote Procedure Call (RPC) layer. The protocol messages are exchanged on top of a secure transport protocol like SSH etc.

In this blog, instead of looking at PCEP based LSPs from Northstar we will explore netconf functionality and what other features have been introduced in new ns version.

Below is our current model which is built using TED (Traffic Engineering Database) by Northstar and if you look closely there are 2 devices which have PCEP session up because they have correct Junos code on it (15.1F6 and later) however all others are having netconf session Up even if they are on Junos 10, 12, 14 etc. which is cool thing. So as long as you have netconf stanza added in Junos config and have ssh connectivity that is all Northstar need to connect to devices.


Lets start by configuring a P2MP LSP via Northstar

You can see 2 options here for provisioning method. One is PCEP and other is Netconf.


We will choose Netconf and fill other bits.


We have kept Path as dynamic however we can choose required path to TE it more. Under Advanced Tab, you will see P2MP Name field, in which we have added the P2MP name.


All others field you can pretty much keep default.

Once you submit it, Northstar will open a netconf session on port 830 towards headend router which is M320 in our case and push and commit the config to it.


You can see above LSP has become Active and its showing the path as well which this LSP is taking. Now one of the biggest difference between PCEP created LSP and one created from Netconf is that Netconf LSPs will be part of startup-config in Junos as the configs are committing to it so it can be slow process getting your LSP up based upon commit time. Also all Netconf created LSPs are basically shown as PCC Controlled. However PCEP just sent LSP state to network to build E2E path rather than config. PCEP LSP config still resides in NS database and LSPs are created within seconds and are PCE Initiated.

M320> show configuration protocols mpls label-switched-path demo-0610
p2mp demo-0610-p2p;
primary demo-0610.p0 {
 apply-groups demo-0610-p2p;

M320> show configuration groups demo-0610-p2p
protocols {
 mpls {
 label-switched-path <*> {
 primary <*> {
 bandwidth 10m;
 priority 7 7;

Ok so that’s for P2MP LSPs which is clean. In 3.1.0 one of the issue we found was related to commit process. Suppose you have 10 LSPs to be created from one source to destination. With Netconf, NS will commit 10 times individually for those LSPs which can be time consuming on some of the MX104s, MX80s with less CPU power. Juniper is looking to change this and putting the commit in batches to decrease the overall time and commit process which would be excellent J

So we have seen now how P2MP LSPs are created via Netconf however we haven’t seen how Netconf parameters are configured on NS as with netconf you can see the analytics data as well which is populated by Telemetry. We will see Telemetry in some other blog.

Under Administration -> Device Profiles we have to set the parameters for individual device.


We enable Netconf and add login details and password. You can test the connectivity as well from NS before actually trying to provision the network.


Apart from P2MP, another thing which has been introduced is while provisioning the LSP you can select which routing method you need to choose. There are many methods starting from default to routebyPCC, etc. default means that NS will calculate the path and routebyPCC means routers will calculate the path and NS won’t be having any say in it.


Another new feature which has been introduced in release 3.1.0 is setting the current path as explicit.

So above P2MP LSP I created was just dynamic however if we want to explicitly make this path as Strict so that LSP doesn’t change path based upon the network conditions we can configure it as below.


If we see the CLI now, NS has filled strict path in it.

M320> show configuration protocols mpls path demo-0610.p0 strict; strict;

Ok that’s all for this blog. I hope you like it and let me know your views if you are looking at using NS for your network and if you are already, what are your use cases J



Mohit Mittal



Junos Telemetry

Hi All

Recently I attended a Juniper workshop in their London office and heard about Junos Telemetry concept which was really a new one for me and I quite liked it.

The basic idea is to replace traditional methods of collecting the data from devices on Management stations which helps Operations teams in more automated solution for managing their vast networks.

Traditional method which I am talking about here is SNMP which works on Pull model where Management station polls the network devices to gather useful information using MIBs and in turn displays the data to Network Admins/Operations Team. This method is being used currently and have succeed a lot. However as Hardware vendors are providing more and more APIs in their products which can be used by users to configure their devices in lots of innovative ways, polling or gather statistics via SNMP is not scalable in those scenario. Also SNMP polls the devices at regular interval which is again an operational challenge as something can happen on device between the intervals which wont be captured.

Junos Telemetry or Telemetry concept in general provides a Push model where we can configure the device to send the real time data based upon any trigger or in general for various parameters. 


  Source: Juniper Networks

In this blog, we are not going to see how its configured in CLI but who knows when I can get hold of appropriate Junos code and have a play on it 🙂 but till then let’s see what are its other features.

Junos Telemetry interface (JIT) as I mentioned above works on Push model where it streams the results to collector or even to Controller like Northstar to drive MPLS LSPs. Format of data what is being sent is either in form of Google Protocol buffer GPB or can be JSON based.

Juniper provides the collector software however there are open source collectors as well called OpenNTI collector which is basically a docker container consisting of 3 open-source components.

Shown below is one of the Visualization chart using Grafana,


From application point of view, i think its one of the application could be to re-route the LSPs or create a LSP from Northstar Controller based upon the bandwidth statistics from interface. Once interface statistics reported to collector exceeds certain threshholds, Application can instruct Northstar controller to create a LSP via other route which can in long term works towards Self Driving Networks.

Other Application could be to provide more user-friendly stats about routers/network device to Operations like Memory, CPU usage in environment where thousands of routes or control packets are going via routers and memory hog can be created because of this.

Junos Telemetry Interface was introduced in Junos OS Release 15.1F3, on MX Series routers with interfaces configured on MPC1 through MPC6E, and on PTX Series routers with interfaces configured on FPC3.

So that’s all for Telemetry. I haven’t added much details on this as this is really a new concept for me and as n when I read more about it or get a chance to do hand-on on it, I will write more. Let me know your views on it and if you have used or planning to use this in your network.




Software Defined Networking – SDN

SDN as I mentioned in previous discussion is to separate out the Control Plane from Router or any network component and provide the centralized place to control the whole Network Topology. You know in any Network device, we have Control Plane, Mgmt Plane and Data plane doing their own set of work (e.g in Cisco 6509 you have Line cards acting as Dataplane, Route Processor as Control Plane and Mgmt plane is how you are accessing the device via SSH/Telnet etc) and in SDN you are separating out the Control plane from these Network devices to make them only works as pure Forwarding devices.

All the routing protocols and control data is taken care by Centralized location which in SDN terminology is called “SDN Controller”. SDN Controller talks to Infrastructure (Forwarding Network devices) via Southbound APIs and Controller can talk to Applications above it via Northbound APIs as you can see in image below.


Source :-www.opennetworking.org

So you will build Applications like any software on your desktop which talks to Controller and Controller then talks to Forwarding devices via Southbound APIs. In this way you will have centralized way of communicating with Forwarding Network devices and Network devices only work will be to send the traffic from one source to destination as fast as possible without worrying about Control protocols like OSPF, BGP, ISIS etc.

Most common Southbound interface is Openflow which is Open source protocol developed by ONF (Open Networking Foundation). Network devices can be specialized hardware switches from companies like Cisco, Brocade, Juniper etc. or they can be Virtual devices (VMs) for which they are called Open vSwitch. Only requirement for Hardware switches to use with Openflow is that those switches should be able to support Openflow. There are several products in market from various hardware vendors which supports Openflow i.e. Juniper EX9200 Ethernet Switches, MX960 Router, Big Switch Networks – Big Virtual Switch and many many more.

Openflow is not the only protocol which you use for Controller to talk to Network devices; instead other protocols like SNMP, NetConfig, OVSDB are also there but most common protocol in use is Openflow only and all the companies who are currently building the Openflow support are members of ONF as I explained above.

There are various pre-built VM packages you can get today from Internet which you can run from VMware or Virtual Box and they will open the Interface from where you can create your own topologies to work with. Topologies like 1 Virtual Controller, 3 OpenvSwitches with 3 Hosts. Those VM Images will come pre-built with SDN Controllers, Open vSwitch with support for Openflow, Mininet to create and run example topologies, Wireshark, JDK 1.8, Eclipse Luna etc etc.

In next blogs, i will try to give more from hands on perspective from one of these VM Packages and will also talk about how some projects are currently using this.

Please let me know if you have any queries.

Mohit Mittal


As we are faced with more n more SDN and NFV terms in Telecom Networking these days, i thought of discussing same here and give you my understanding of what i think of these technologies.

Currently Communication service providers (CSPs) like BT, ATnT are facing numerous challenges from OTT (Over the Top) players like Netflix, Youtube, Hulu etc. CSP doesn’t get any revenues while subscribers like us use these OTT services. Still however, the infrastructure needed to handle all this growing data traffic needs to grow more to meet the expanding capacity and customer requirements. As a result, infrastructure costs are growing faster than customer/subscriber revenue growth.

Network functions Virtualization (NFV) offers a new way to design, deploy and manage networking services. NFV decouples the network functions, such as network address translation (NAT), firewall, domain name service (DNS), caching, etc., from proprietary hardware appliances, so they can run in software. (Think of GNS3 software if you have used it on your laptop). NFV is just much more that. You must have heard that Cisco or Juniper or any vendor’s hardware are some hundred thousand pounds. You can’t use Juniper Line card in Alcatel or Cisco or vice versa. This is a challenge for Service Providers. Previously Cisco or any Hardware vendor for that matter used to sell their products based upon traffic capacity they can handle like Gig, 10G per seconds however now the Dell, HP servers can meet those requirements without you having to buy the proprietary hardware from vendors like Cisco. All you need to do is take any server and run custom software on top of it which can acts as Firewall, DNS etc. etc.  NFV utilizes standard IT virtualization technologies that run on high-volume service, switch and storage hardware to virtualize network functions.

This will surely put a dent in hardware vendors profit but if they have to keep up with client expectations they have to take this turn. Offcourse there are limitations because of using server instead of dedicated vendor router but then Service providers are not going to replace their Core MPLS routers with NFV. NFV is still new to market and is in very nascent stage to understand its various usecases.


PIC Courtesy : http://www.moorinsightsstrategy.com

SDN (Software-Defined Networking) on the other hand is a concept related to NFV, but they refer to different domains. If you are aware of how any router works, you will be able to understand it very quickly. Every Router has 3 different planes. One is Management Plan, 2nd Control Plane and 3rd Forwarding Plane. Using Management Plane Router delivers Management Functions like SSH, TACACs etc. Control Plane is where all routing protocols is processed Like OSPF, BGP, RIP, etc etc. Forwarding Plane is using which Router sends/receive the Actual traffic out/in from its interfaces.

Now work of SDN is to separate out this Control Plane from Router or any network component and provide the centralized place to control the whole Network Topology. In this way the areas like Internal Data Centres of organizations where nothing much changes happens in Control Plane you can separate out this functionality from servers/network components and use servers purely for forwarding traffic as fast as possible. There are number of tools which helps in providing this functionality and with time I think we would be able to get more on that.

However SDN as a concept is not just using Openflow switches using open flow protocol.. Other vendors are implementing it as an Automatic provisioning tool using totally different concepts but still calling it as SDN as that what it is, you are using software to influence networks.

As you can see above, NFV and SDN are somewhat different concepts and can operate independently however they are generally implemented together and can act as powerful tool in today’s network environments.

That’s all for this blog. I will discuss more on these topics in later blogs. Do let me know your comments or feedback and what you think of these technologies!



Mohit Mittal