Metaswitch's Project Calico aims to simplify NFV connectivity

Metaswitch Networks rolled out Project Calico, an open-source effort that aims to shift connectivity for large-scale network functions virtualization (NFV) and cloud implementations from Layer 2 to Layer 3, enabling the connection model to work directly at the Internet Protocol (IP) level.

Calico supports the Icehouse release of the OpenStack cloud orchestration system to enable secure IP communication between virtual machines. However, the Project Calico website also noted that "we have ambitious plans to support every possible virtualization environment and welcome enquiries from community members interested in porting to other environments."

In addition, Metaswitch CTO Martin Taylor told Telecom TV that while telcos looking at NFV are probably considering using existing cloud software solutions, such as OpenStack, Metaswitch's view "is that a solution like OpenStack is inefficient when it comes to telco NFV and large-scale data centers."

The Layer 3 option proposed by Metaswitch is already included in draft proposals coming out of ETSI's NFV Industry Specifications Group. "We've found that it solves all sorts of issues and is a better fit for telcos than the unnecessarily complicated OpenStack approach," Taylor said. 

Metaswitch contends that moving virtual networking to Layer 3 is essential in telecom networks because using Layer 3 is less complex and more efficient than using Layer 2. Project Calico will work with any network technology or topology that will transport L3 packets.

Project Calico source code is licensed under the open-source Apache software license, so software vendors and system integrators are free to create and support commercial distributions based on Calico. Metaswitch also intends to introduce commercially supported editions of Project Calico later this year.

The Project Calico website notes the name was chosen because calico is a simple, cheap type of cotton fabric as well as a type of multi-colored cat. "We're all about creating a simpler, cheaper fabric for data centers. And we like cats," the site added.

Project Calico should not be confused with Google's Calico, a project announced in September 2013 that is focused on health and well-being, particularly in relation to aging and associated diseases.

Metaswitch made a foray into open-source projects last year, when it launched Project Clearwater to provide a free IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core for the cloud. Metaswitch was selected early this year as an initial vendor for AT&T's (NYSE: T) user-defined network cloud concept.

For more:
- see this Project Calico webpage
- see this TelecomTV article
- see this LightReading article

Related articles:
AT&T launches user-defined cloud strategy
CloudNFV developing NFV prototype for cloud-based virtualization
Project Clearwater floats open-source IMS core for the cloud