RtBrick debuts two APIs for telco networks

On Thursday, routing software vendor RtBrick took the wraps off of two new APIs for its software as part of its efforts to disaggregate hardware and software for telco networks.

RtBrick said its new APIs allow operators to control every element of their disaggregated broadband networks from external systems. The APIs, which are being used by an unnamed major telco company that’s already in a pilot with RtBrick, enable operators to control individual switches or entire networks as well as access underlying systems with more granularity.

The APIs can also unify network and IT operations via a consistent REST-based approach and operate disaggregated companies along side of other equipment using the same higher-level systems, according to Princeton, New Jersey-based RtBrick.

RtBrick, which was founded in 2015 and backed by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and Swisscom Ventures, is using same approach to carrier networks that the large cloud-native companies, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, have used to build their IT services. 

One of RtBrick’s new APIs opens up access into its RtBrick Management System (RBMS). The REST-based interface enables an overarching system to manage multiple vendors and types of equipment alongside the RtBrick disaggregated systems by selecting the specific RBMS GUIs (graphical user interfaces) that are required by the higher-level system.

"RBMS has been tested with our own routing software and bare-metal-switch hardware from multiple vendors including Edgecore and Delta Networks," said Hannes Gredler, founder and CTO at RtBrick, in an email to FierceTelecom. "It also works with RtBrick software running on x86 processors. In the northbound direction the APIs are entirely open and published for any higher level system to use. For example, we have customers who will use their own higher level operational systems to control a network built with RtBrick software and multiple hardware vendors.

RtBrick also has a switch-level API to control RtBrick’s FullStack networking software—the RBFS API. The RtBrick Management System uses this API to control individual switches, but the RBFS API can also be exposed to higher-level systems, allowing direct access to the tables and objects in the routing software.

"Having open REST-based APIs was part of the RtBrick architecture from day one," said Gredler. "It has only been possible to expose every element to higher level systems like this because of the way we designed our data store.

"Conventional routers have many different databases, but with modern silicon performance we realized we could store every attribute of the switch in a single database, from forwarding tables to the temperature of the chips, which we can then expose via the API. This is has meant that higher level systems don’t need to talk via an intermediate layer and have a more granular level of control than has been seen before."

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RtBrick said the RBFS API gives operators the ability to configure individual switches, deploy a mesh of switches, or write applications that can respond to external events. All types of systems can access the new interfaces, whether it is another element management system, or an application written in Python or Go, for example.

The RBFS API also comes with user authentication, which can control different privileges for different types of users.

Source: RtBrick

"In RBMS we use HTTP to describe and manage the resources, and then we use a standard tool to describe our API, called Swagger," Gredler said. "Swagger makes it easy to work with different APIs and allows you to generate client libraries and CLI commands to invoke the API in real-world networks. All of these will feed up to higher-level systems.

"We have developed the APIs based on requests and demands from customers. We can’t comment on specific customer deployments, but we can say they are an important part of our customers’ plans to migrate to a more ‘cloud-native’ way of operating their networks."

RtBrick has about 50 employees, most of whom are engineers, located in Austria, Belgium, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, UK and the U.S.