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Getting Started with OPNFV - How Should I Prepare? (OPNFV Demystified Part 3)

by John Hermanski

Jul 21, 2016 9:47:44 AM

Getting Started with OPNFV - How Should I Prepare?

At this point you may be holding the OPNFV ISO in your sweaty hand, just itching to get it into a DVD drive in a convenient system from whence a fully-formed cloud will quickly spring.

Ummmmm – not so fast. Let’s talk about some things you first really need to have and really need to do.

To understand what you’re going to be doing and to actually get it done, you will need some competency in the following:

  • A good understanding of IP networking. Actually, a way better-than-average understanding of IP networking would not hurt. This would include:
    • IPv4 addressing, network segmentation, gateways, routing.  IPv6 is starting to get some attention – see the OPNFV project here – but stick with IPv4
    • Virtual LANs (VLANs)
    • Knowledge of how the networks are set up for your developers and how they tie into the larger corporate network
    • At least basic security concerns are implemented at your company. What’s publicly accessible, what requires virtual private network (VPN), which protocols/ports are allowed, which are blocked.
    • Fluency with Linux-specific networking. All those network-oriented commands like ping, traceroute, ifconfig, netstat, tcpdump, nslookup - just to name a few.
  • Here’s a decidedly non-technical suggestion - make friends with your company’s IT guys. You will need them; both to do some configuration on their side of the fence, and possibly as a source of networking knowledge. They deal with networks on a daily basis.
  • Basic hardware smarts and Linux system admin competency, beyond the networking-related things mentioned above:
    • Physical setup of systems, consoles, switches, cabling, etc.
    • BIOS setup for getting your machines to boot correctly.
    • Network (PXE) booting.
    • Some web-related knowledge. Numerous pieces of OPNFV/OpenStack are accessed by a web browser, and REST APIs and the HTTP protocol play an important part.
    • Configuring disk storage options. This may be relatively simple in an RMS setup where each machine has its own disk(s). Or it may be quite complicated in a blade server where most storage for a blade is allocated from networked disk storage array or a pool of flash memory.
  • Programming abilities are not so important. However, competence in shell scripting and/or Python programming might be handy. The OpenStack Horizon GUI is convenient, but you will likely want to automate some of the repetitive things that you do. In addition, Heat Orchestration Templates (HOT) used for orchestrating multiple guest VM system startup and configuration are essentially a script-oriented language.

A Little Reading Before You Start?

Needless to say, a good read-through of the OPNFV documentation should be done before starting anything. To begin with, I would recommend the ubiquitous FAQs.  More introductory material is in the OPNFV Platform Overview Document. To start acquiring some real technical knowledge, the OPNFV Technical Overview page would be the place to start.  While the title “Configuration Guide” sounds promising, I did not find this too useful. If you are going the recommended Fuel route, almost everything you need to know to do your installation is laid out on the OPNFV Fuel-based installation page for the Brahmaputra release. This is a cookbook-like document that will lead you through the installation and deployment procedure with little left to the imagination.  However, there are some asides like “physical TOR (top of rack) switches are not automatically configured from the Fuel OPNFV reference platform,” which could mean several days of study, work, and debugging unless you are fluent with them, or, as I previously mentioned, are very friendly with people in your IT department.

How much should one dip into the base project documentation mentioned in OPNFV? If you have no previous OpenStack or Fuel experience, you will want to make a few detours. The references at the bottom of the Fuel Installation Guide point to a good first set of background readings.

In the next installment, I will get into more of the gory details – a network diagram or two, some specific instructions on configurations that worked for me (as opposed to some that didn’t), and emphasis on some of the items in the OPNFV instructions that you really want to pay close attention to.

This is part 3 of the "OPNFV Demystified" blog series. The next part of the blog series will be posted on Thursday morning each week. Check out the other posts in this series.

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Topics: NFV/SDN & Cloud, Guides: How-to's, Infographics, and more