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Understanding the OVSDB Protocol Running on Juniper Networks Devices

The Juniper Networks Junos OS implementation of the Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB) management protocol provides a means through which Juniper Networks devices that support OVSDB can communicate with software-defined networking (SDN) controllers. Juniper Networks devices exchange control and statistical information with the SDN controllers, thereby enabling virtual machine (VM) traffic from the entities in a virtualized network to be forwarded to entities in a physical network and vice versa.

The Junos OS implementation of OVSDB includes an OVSDB server and an OVSDB client, both of which run on each Juniper Networks device that supports OVSDB.

The OVSDB server on a Juniper Networks device can communicate with an OVSDB client on an SDN controller. To establish a connection between a Juniper Networks device and an SDN controller, you must specify information about the SDN controller (IP address) and the connection (port over which the connection occurs and the communication protocol to be used) on each Juniper Networks device. After the configuration is successfully committed, the connection is established between the management port of the Juniper Networks device and the SDN controller port that you specify in the Junos OS configuration.

The OVSDB server stores and maintains an OVSDB database schema, which is defined for physical devices. This schema contains control and statistical information provided by the OVSDB client on the Juniper Networks devices and on SDN controllers. This information is stored in various tables in the schema. The OVSDB client monitors the schema for additions, deletions, and modifications to this information, and the information is used for various purposes, such as learning the media access control (MAC) addresses of virtual hosts and physical servers.

The schema provides a means through which the Juniper Networks devices and the SDN controllers can exchange information. For example, the Juniper Networks devices capture MAC routes to entities in the physical network and push this information to a table in the schema so that SDN controllers with connections to these Juniper Networks devices can access the MAC routes. Conversely, SDN controllers capture MAC routes to entities in the virtualized network and push this information to a table in the schema so that Juniper Networks devices with connections to the SDN controllers can access the MAC routes.

Some of the OVSDB table names include the words local or remote, for example, unicast MACs local table and unicast MACs remote table. Information in local tables is learned by a Juniper Networks device that functions as a hardware virtual tunnel endpoint (VTEP), while information in remote tables is learned from other software or hardware VTEPs.