FP7 ALIEN project


ALIEN will deliver an innovative network abstraction mechanism targeting the control and management convergence and interoperability of heterogeneous network elements building strong foundations for Software Defined Networks.

Figure 1 – ALIEN architecture overview

To achieve this, ALIEN proposes to adopt the concept of Network Operating System (NOS), a distributed system running on top the hybrid, heterogeneous network infrastructure, which creates a global view of the network elements and their capability.

The NOS of ALIEN will be based on control and management framework of OFELIA FIRE facility. ALIEN will extend OpenFlow control framework of OFELIA and its architecture to support abstraction of network information of equipment that are alien to the OpenFlow technology such as optical network elements, legacy layer2 switches, network processors and programmable hardware (FPGA). Building on its novel NOS, ALIEN introduces the concept of the control program paradigm, which operates on the global view of the network. and support new network technologies in layer0, layer1 and layer 2 both in core and access.

The NOS of ALIEN utilizes a novel hardware description language as well as a functional abstraction mechanism for uniform representation of any type of network hardware and their capabilities/functionalities that doesn’t support OpenFLow (i.e. alien hardware). The language will describe capabilities of hardware, input and output signal format, and topology information to describe the pipelining of actions on specific hardware. The abstraction mechanism will hide hardware complexity as well as technology and vendor specific features from OpenFlow control framework.

ALIEN project aims to experimentally verify its solution for describing network device capabilities and controlling its forwarding behaviour of all OpenFlow and non-OpenFlow capable hardware simultaneously.

In summary, ALIEN is: