Updated 2/2022 – FD.io has moved from Nexus to hosting the documentation elsewhere.
In this short article, I would like to share our experience in the field of integrating VPP and Honeycomb, and about the extension of VPP services. Among our colleagues are many developers who contribute to both projects, as well as people who work on integrating these two projects. These developers also work on integrating them with the rest of the networking world.
Let’s define the basic terms.
What is VPP?
According to its wiki page, it is “an extensible framework that provides out-of-the-box production quality switch/router functionality”. There is definitely more to say about VPP, but what’s most important is that it:
- provides switch and router functionality
- is in production quality level
- is platform independent
“Platform independent” means, that it is up to your decision where you will run it (virtualized environment, bare-metal or others). VPP is a piece of software, which is by default spread in the form of packages. Final VPP packages are available from the official documentation page. Let’s say we decide to use stable VPP in version 17.04 on a stable Ubuntu version 16.04. You can download all available packages from the corresponding Nexus site. If there is no such platform available at Nexus, you can still download VPP and build it on the platform, which you need.
VPP will process packets, which flow in your network similarly to a physical router, but with one big advantage: you do not need to buy a router. You can use whatever physical device you have and just install the VPP modules.
What is Honeycomb?
It is a specific VPP interface. Honeycomb provides NETCONF and RESTCONF interface on northbound and stores required configuration (in form of XML or JSON) in local data store. There is also the hc2vpp project, which calls the corresponding VPP API as reaction to a new configuration stored in data store.
In VPP, there is a special CLI that is used to communicate with VPP. It is in text form (similarly as in OS). To make it easier to use VPP, we also have Honeycomb. It provides an interface, which is somewhere between a GUI and a CLI. You can also request VPP state or statistics of via XML, and you will get the response in an XML form. Honeycomb can be installed in the same way as VPP, through packages, which can be accessed from the Nexus site.
Where can the combination of VPP and Honeycomb be used?
We’ve already showcased several use cases on our PANTHEON.tech YouTube channel:
- BGP in Honeycomb controlling the VPP FIB table
- Honeycomb BGP-LS based on VPP IPv6
- RESTCONF configuration of VPP as an IPsec endpoint
- VxLAN for Linux Containers with VPP and Honeycomb
- Containers integration with VPP and Honeycomb
Another alternative is to use the two as vCPE (Virtual Customer Premises Equipment) as specified in this draft. One of projects which wants to implement it is ONAP. VPP used as vCPE-endpoint for the internet connection from a provider. According to this use case, vCPE should provide several services. In standalone VPP, such services aren’t supported, but they still can be added to a machine where VPP is running. For demonstration, we have chosen DHCP and DNS.
In this case, we have two VMs. VM0 simulates the client side (DHCP client) which wants IP address to be assigned to interface enp0s9. VM1 contains VPP and a DHCP server. The DHCP request is broadcasted via enp0s9 at VM0 to VPP1 via port 192.168.40.2. VPP1 is set as proxy DHCP server and DHCP request message is forwarded to 192.168.60.2, where the DHCP server will response with a DHCP offer. Finally, after all DHCP configuration steps are done, interface enp0s9 at VM0 is configured with IP address 192.168.40.10.
In this case, we also have two VMs. VM0 simulates the client side (DNS client) which needs to resolve domain name to IP address. This request is routed via local port to VPP1, where it is routed to DNS server in VM1. If this resolution is required for the first time, then the request will be sent to the external DNS server. Otherwise, local DNS server will serve this request.