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New Features


The following new features are introduced in NorthStar Release 5.1.0:

EPE Planner

The EPE planner is a planning and optimization application for network operators so they can formulate plans to minimize the cost of traffic destined for their peers. The EPE planner is bundled with the NorthStar Controller/Planner, and is installed in the same installation process.

The EPE planner application is launched and operated through the NorthStar Controller web UI, where the user can plan how to steer traffic into tunnels, taking internal transit, external transit, and peering costs into consideration.

Users work on “projects” which are, essentially, planning sessions. A session begins with a “current plan”, represented by a snapshot of the live network. From there, plan changes are formulated, along with step-by-step execution plans to make the proposed changes safely in the network. Ultimately, the plans can be executed in the live network. Figure 1 illustrates the general work flow.

Figure 1: EPE Planner Work Flow
EPE Planner Work Flow

See Understanding the EPE Planner Application in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information about the EPE Planner application.

ECMP LSP Placement (Least-Fill or Random)

With this feature, NorthStar takes link bandwidth reservation into consideration when performing path computation, distributing LSP traffic over multiple paths of equal cost rather than using only the first path with the shortest metric.

If ECMP LSP Placement is enabled, NorthStar distributes traffic over ECMP whenever path computation is required, such as:

  • When a link goes down, requiring LSP rerouting

  • When path optimization is initiated

  • At the beginning and end of maintenance events

This feature is disabled by default. To enable it, navigate to Administration > System Settings (Admin user only).

Limitation: When provisioning LSPs via NETCONF, the PCS does not allocate bandwidth until it receives a response from either the configServer or PCEP. This is a different behavior from provisioning LSPs via PCEP where the PCS allocates bandwidth immediately. When provisioning LSPs via NETCONF one at a time, there is the potential for a provisioning order to be sent before the response to a previous provisioning order is received—which means the second order might not have correct bandwidth allocation information and NorthStar might not be able to provide an ECMP. We recommend provisioning multiple LSPs via NETCONF in one operation (bulk provisioning) in order to avoid this issue.

See Subscribers and System Settings in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information.

CRPD Alternative to Junos VM in NorthStar Installation

NorthStar can now be installed with an optional parameter (--crpd) to use Containerized Routing Protocol Daemon (cRPD) instead of Junos VM. When you install with cRPD, the Main Menu in the script has a cRPD option. Once you select that option, you are presented with Junos CRPD Configuration Settings.

The NorthStar Controller Getting Started Guide includes the steps to install NorthStar with cRPD.

TimeZone User Preferences Saved in Database

The NorthStar Controller UI displays timestamps on components such as the network information table, network status, and event charts and tables. By default, the timestamps are displayed in the client’s time zone.

Functionality has always been provided in Account Settings to select a different time zone and date/time format, but prior to this release, those preferences were only valid in the current session, and the user had to reset them with every log-in. Those preferences were also limited in where they took effect, so the user would have to keep track of which displays were in the default time zone/format and which were not.

In this release, time zone/format preferences are saved in the database and persist across sessions for that user, including both NorthStar Controller and NorthStar Planner. Also, all displays of time/date conform to the configured preferences, with only the following exceptions (because these functions fetch files from the server):

  • Reports

  • Logs

See User Management in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information.

RADIUS Client Support

You can specify that users are to be authenticated using a RADIUS server. The NorthStar server sends authentication requests to the RADIUS server; the RADIUS server authenticates or rejects the requests. The settings associated with this option must coincide with the RADIUS server configuration. Prior to this release, only local and LDAP server authentication were supported.

Access this setting by navigating to Administration > Authentication (only the admin has the necessary permission).

See Authentication in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information.

NorthStar Planner Imports

This feature enables you to run or schedule a device collection task and have the collection data added to the database for use by the NorthStar Planner. For a scheduled task, all instances of the task are saved in the database, even though only the latest is available to the NorthStar Operator. Any instance can be used to create a network in the NorthStar Planner. Operator and Planner are independent of one another with regard to deleting tasks.

See Scheduling Device Collection for Analytics in the NorthStar Controller User Guide and Importing Raw Network Data into NorthStar Planner in the NorthStar Planner Web UI Guide for more information.

Analytics Geo-HA

While original analytics HA using ElasticSearch is effective for local (same data center) clusters, Geo-HA makes all data available on all nodes, to better serve networks where the nodes are geographically remote from one another. To achieve this, a local RabbitMQ (messaging bus) is installed on each analytics (ElasticSearch) node. This improves the tolerance for latency and helps compensate for the tendency of remote nodes to become out of sync.

Geo-HA is selected and configured using a new option in the script.

See Installing Data Collectors for Analytics in the NorthStar Getting Started Guide for more information.

HealthBot Integration, Phase 1

The integration of the NorthStar Controller and HealthBot products is an ongoing development effort and is being released with a phased approach. Phase 1 requires NorthStar Controller Release 5.1.0 with HealthBot Release 2.1.

NorthStar Controller can use HealthBot as its analytics collector in a side-by-side installation scenario. You install and manage NorthStar and HealthBot independently, but configure some analytics collector functions in NorthStar to be handled by HealthBot instead of Elasticsearch. In NorthStar Controller Release 5.1.0, only Juniper nodes are supported (as opposed to multi-vendor support), and only the following analytics collections can be handled by HealthBot:

  • Junos Telemetry Interface (JTI) LSP statistics

  • JTI interface statistics (logical and physical)

  • Link latency statistics using RPM probes

  • LDP demand statistics using LDP show commands

See NorthStar Integration with HealthBot in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information.

Experimental Support for T-API 2.1

NorthStar’s multilayer functionality now supports transport controllers that use the T-API 2.1 standard. As with other supported standards, NorthStar can:

  • Display the topology

  • Access link discovery and configuration

  • Import SRLG and delay information

  • Provide dynamic updates

This is experimental support and has some limitations:

  • Topology filtering is not currently supported

  • Topology change notifications are not currently supported (transport controller topology polling can be configured, however, to provide information).

See Configuring the Multilayer Feature in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information.

PCEP-Provisioned P2MP Groups with Service Mapping

Beginning with Junos OS Release 19.4R1, Junos OS has the ability to associate multicast flows (S,G) in the multicast VPN context to a PCEP P2MP LSP provisioned via the NorthStar Controller, in accordance with draft-ietf-pce-pcep-flowspec-05. Beginning with NorthStar Controller Release 5.1.0, you can leverage that Junos OS functionality by provisioning PCEP P2MP groups in NorthStar that you associate with one or more multicast flows (S,G) in a multicast VPN. Once a P2MP group is associated with a particular (S,G) in a multicast VPN, traffic from that particular source IP S going to group IP G, is able to utilize that particular P2MP group.

For PCEP P2MP service mapping with flowspec, certain router configuration statements are required, in addition to those required to support PCEP provisioning in general.

See Provision and Manage P2MP Groups in the NorthStar Controller User Guide for more information.

Integration with Ericsson Orchestrator

The NorthStar API now includes a northbound API to Ericsson Orchestrator so that using RESTCONF and a data model, NorthStar can export topology to Ericsson and provision LSPs from Ericsson Orchestrator. LSP provisioning supports Segment Routing (SR) and RSVP.

The ietf-te-topology@2017-01-10 and ietf-te@2016-10-26 models are provided over RESTCONF.

Ability to Add/Modify/Delete Links, Tunnels, and Demands in NorthStar Planner

In the NorthStar Planner, you can now make adjustments to a network in order to see the impact. In the Topology view of a network, you can add, modify, or delete links, tunnels, or demands from the Links, Tunnels, or Demands tabs in the network information table. The add, modify, and delete buttons appear at the bottom of the table, as in the NorthStar Controller UI. Clicking a button brings up a secondary window, presenting you with options, or in the case of the delete function, with a confirmation request.

See Network Information Table Bottom Tool Bar in the NorthStar Planner Web UI Guide for more information.