OSSA Deep Dive

What is OSSA (Open Switch Software Architecture)

OSSA is Open Switch Software Architecture which aims to provide an open software environment to increase the flexibility and manageability of data centers. OSSA includes three system layers, including boot loader, operating system, and software application.

At the boot loader layer, OSSA leverages uBoot, an open source boot loader with rich capabilities. By default, OSSA loads its pre-qualified Linux image from a local compact flash card. It is also possible to change the uBoot setting to bypass the local CF card and make the switch boot from remote DHCP servers for central management.

At the operating system layer, OSSA incorporates mainstream Linux kernels which support rich management tools. The kernel also supports native GCC compiler so users can develop or port their own management and monitoring agents to the switches. OSSA Linux uses the local Compact Flash card as the root file system, which allows users to install tools. Users can also install their own Debian or Redhat Linux to leverage the build-in tools in those distros.

On top of the operating system layer, OSSA supports two main software applications, Xorplus and Indigo. Xorplus is a GPLv2 open-source stack, supporting mainstream L2 and L3 protocols. For layer 2, Xorplus supports STP/RSTP/MSTP, LLDP, LACP, and VLAN. At layer 3, Xorplus supports OSPF, ECMP, RIP, and multicast protocols such as IGMP and PIM-SM. Additionally, Xorplus supports both IPv4 and IPv6. All Pronto switches come with life-time software license of Xorplus. Users can upgrade their software to the latest version of any available Xorplus release without additional charge. In case users need software support, Pronto offers different package for support service.

In addition to Xorplus, OSSA also supports Indigo software stack, an official OpenFlow stack developed by Stanford University. Users can choose to boot the switches into an OpenFlow device and manage them with any OpenFlow controller, such as controller of Big Switch Networks (BSN), Nicira, or NOX of Stanford.

How does OSSA help data centers?

The ultimate goal of OSSA is to enable switches to be managed and monitored like servers while still provide high-quality switching protocol stacks. By using the open source model on all layers, Pronto is to bring fast development and high quality software into the switching industry. The life-time free license offers customers peace-of-mind of free access to latest upgrade and software features.

Who supports the software?

Pronto provide various support service packages to its switches. The support comes with two levels, Gold Package and Silver Package. The Silver Package gets support through emails, while the Gold Package will have direct phone call support. The service price is per switch, regardless the features or switch speed.

How do I try out development?

Get a Pronto 3290. Bring up the switch and get to the Linux prompt. Write a “Hello World!”, compile it with GCC on the switch* (*ok, this is not supported yet, but we will add it by the end of June). Run it, There you go. Easy. If you are an experienced switch developer, you can use cross compiler on your server and FTP the binary to the switch.

What if all I need is a low-cost rich-feature switch?

All Pronto switches are pre-installed with Xorplus and will automatically boot into Xorplus CLI, which can be locally or remotely managed by any experienced networking IT. The syntax of the Xorplus CLI is Juniper-like, which is quite similar to Cisco CLI. You can find the details in the Xorplus manual.

Is Pronto OSSA open to partner with other software vendors?

Of course, we are an open company.

We welcome any forms of partnership and any partner that wants to contribute to the innovation of networking. Some switch protocol partners want to change business model to service end customers directly instead of selling the source code … welcome. Some network management software provider wants to partner on solution sale … definitely. Some soft router providers want to port their software to an accelerated platform to improve data plane performance … sure.

You can decide your own business model. We are completely open.


About James Liao
James is a data center architect, focusing on the scalability and operation of data center infrastructure.

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