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In a presentation at the Open Networking Summit Europe on September 23rd, I’ll be introducing a new forwarding plane that we recently integrated into Network Service Mesh (NSM). NSM is the CNCF sandbox project that lets you run networking workloads for domains not covered by the Kubernetes default in a declarative, cloud native manner. 

New Forwarding Plane

The forwarding plane is one of the two key NSM components that allow it to solve complicated L2/L3 use cases in Kubernetes that are otherwise challenging to address with existing networking models. Essentially, when the NSM local network service manager calls for connections to be made between a network service and client, the forwarding plane creates those connections. The forwarding plane solution I’ll be presenting is quite simple and designed to be both lightweight and portable, making it easy to implement and enabling more domains to benefit from cloud-native technologies.

In my talk, I’ll share how we built an entirely new forwarding plane from scratch, deliberately using tools that are available on almost every Linux machine to create a Kernel-based solution that can support a wide variety of network protocols that are not yet native in Kubernetes.

Because the new forwarding plane all but free of dependencies, we expect deploying NSM to be easy in a wider variety of situations. We even tried deploying it on ARM64, and it worked flawlessly out of the box. And because it leverages network protocols that already exist in the Linux Kernel, it will be relatively simple to extend beyond its current scope.

The new forwarding plane is already merged into NSM, and in my talk, I’ll offer a brief explanation of how it works and how you can reproduce it for your own use.

The talk should be of interest to anyone wanting to understand what the forwarding plane in NSM does or looking for a template upon which they can build their own.

If you can’t make the talk, you can clone the Network Service Mesh project and try it out. And if you are interested in helping us out, we always welcome new contributors to join our growing community.

Lastly, for those unfamiliar with the NSM project or with service meshes in general, check out our two-part Untangling a Mess of Meshes series, which first explores networking and services meshes before moving on to NSM specifically.