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Network Inspection Tool “Steth” Submitted by UnitedStack Joined the OpenStack Big Tent


Beijing, China, January25, 2016-- The distributed network inspection tool project named "Steth" developed by the team of SDN network engineers from UnitedStack, has formally accepted by the OpenStack community and has been the one of the projects under the OpenStack Big Tent on Jan. 17. From the submission of the project to the OpenStack community to formally joining the Big Tent, Steth took only four days. Besides the project in itself has important practical significance, the lightning speed also benefited from the “Big Tent” development model which the OpenStack community has put great effort on promoting this development model since May 2015.

What functions has Steth project?

According the document of Steth in GitHub (, this tool is a inspection tool designed for OpenStack network. Based on agent mode(C/S), it can accurately locate the networking problems occurring before the deployment of OpenStack network environment or in the processes of operation. Currently, Steth proved to be working in ML2 with OVS for now. In addition to being applied in the OpenStack environment, Steth also can be used in other distributed network environment.

Let's look at the development background of Steth project. The deployment architectures of OpenStack network are various, such as ML2 (legacy and DVR), Linux bridges, OVN, Dragonflow, etc. But there is no exception, these architectures in the process of deploying all need to debug in early stages. For example, we need to pre-configure VLAN, assign the bandwidth on demand, and ensure the availability of links between these nodes.

Besides, with some well-deployed architectures, troubleshooting for VM networking is difficult. For instance, why VM cannot get an IP address; or why it cannot connect to Internet, etc. Steth integrates useful scripts and third party tools(like iperf, tcpdump, etc.) to help operators keep tracking on VM networking.

Steth integrates a series of practical scripts and third-party tools including iperf, tcpdump, etc., can simulate VM to send out DHCP requests and ARP requests, and can help network operators track the real-time status of VM network.It also uses a multi-node architecture consisted by the stateless CLI Controller and Agent. The CLI Controller which can read configuration files then remote calls APIs of Agent side to implement the relevant action, and Agent which can be installed on any debugged node and be unrestricted to the role of nodes .

What is the Steth origin story?

Project Steth is designed and developed by SDN network team of UnitedStack, China’s first OpenStack-based startup company. The original intention of developing this network inspection tool is to solve the SDN pain points in SDN teams’ work. The name of this project is said to be “Stetho” at beginning, but unfortunately the name is used by Facebook’s Android debugging tools. To avoid misunderstanding, the team decided to name their project “Steth” which also can express the meaning of the diagnosis and examination.

Because of highly iterative and integrated development model, while facing growing customer demand to deploy real-world environment, the SDN team of UnitedStack needs to take a lot of time and effort to troubleshoot networking problems encountered during deploying OpenStack. These network faults often don’t involve Neutron. They are usually some common configuration issues, such as the configuration errors of VLANs, the VLANs of switches no releasing, the gateways of Floating IPs no opening, the configuration errors of the endpoint IPs of VxLAN tunnels, etc. There are also some strange issues. For example, policy routing has some problems, and the simple check can not discover the issues. These issues result in the VMs can not send out broadcast packets, and the abnormal communication bandwidth across the cabinet is caused by fiber quality, etc.

The SDN engineers have to spend a lot of time every day in networking operation and maintenance to troubleshoot network configuration over and over again. This is very tough. So this tedious and repetitive work stimulates their inspiration and ideas of developing Steth. On the other hand, the automation tools also can promote the efficiency of networking operation and maintenance more effectively, and realize the efficient large-scale distribution of OpenStack network configuration. Currently, the qualified personnel on top of OpenStack skills are still relatively lack in China so that the tools which can achieve automation are more significant.

“Before designing and developing Steth, we investigated similar tools such as Zabbix and Scalpals, etc. We found that the existing tools were unable to meet our requirements of networking operation and maintenance in the large-scale deployment. The technical architecture of Zabbix is relatively rigid, and Scalpels has some limitations in the new cluster deployment. In fact, Mirantis also encountered these issues of networking automatic operation and maintenance, so it integrated network-checker in FUEL, and then separated it as an independent project in the later. The network-checker was relatively simple, and the quality and management of its code was poor, so it can not meet our needs.”

-- Wang Wei, PTL, SDN network division of UnitedStack

How to join Steth?

While Steth is a new project under the Big Tent of the OpenStack community, the goal of Steth is to become a formal member of the Neutron family. Currently, The project is looking for talented developers and Documentation Engineers. If you want to join Steth development team, you can participate in the meetings held in #openstack-steth on IRC.

The SDN team of UnitedStack has deployed Steth in the test environment. The interested developers and users can view the details of the project and download the tool at

About UnitedStack:

UnitedStack, founded in February 2013, always devotes itself to building united stacks around the world.

As the first OpenStack open source cloud computing company in China, UnitedStack is the first cloud service provider offering managed private cloud in China market and also is the first company which offers highly reliable OpenStack-based platform UOS providing the same area nodes of public cloud and managed private cloud in Chinese cloud computing field. Moreover, it is the first Chinese cloud service provider initially passed a passel of interoperability tests of the OpenStack Foundation.

UnitedStack UOS, the core product of UnitedStack with high reliability, integrateswith the core technologies and capacities such as elastic computing, distributed block storage and SDN (software-defined networking), etc. and unique features like second-level deployment and online migration. It brings a new generation of cloud infrastructure with more security, reliability and high performance.

UnitedStack is an important hybrid cloud provider in China market, its cloud service highly praised by its customers in various industries including internet, energy, finance, manufacture and other industries.

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Contact: Francise Yu

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