Intel pushes telecom network, data center transformation
Announces three products for developing SDN-based switches, servers
Three strategic reference architectures that will enable the IT and telecom industries to accelerate hardware and software development for software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) were announced recently by Intel Corporation at the Open Networking Summit conference.
These reference architectures, aimed at the telecom, cloud data center and enterprise data center infrastructure market segments, combine open standards for SDN and NFV with Intel hardware and software to enable networks to be more agile and intelligent, and faster to adapt to changing market dynamics.
Recently Nick McKeown, an engineering professor at Stanford University, told EETimes that he expects a new breed of merchant networking processors to replace ASICs in routers and switches over the next decade.McKeown helped kick-start the movement towards SDN based on the OpenFlow protocol. Its goal is to enable a new class of software apps that manage gangs of simplified switches and routers. McKeown told EETimes he has looked into the future of communication processors "and if you squint hard it looks like RISC for networking." He sees a new breed of merchant chips taking the place of big ASICs fromcompanies like Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson and Juniper. The first attempts at creating them likely will emerge over the next two or three years, he said. Chip vendors such as Broadcom and Marvell are adding OpenFlow support to their switches already.
In Intel's view, Integrating SDN and NFV on standard x86 platforms allows lowering the acquisition and management costs as well as enabling new innovative services never before possible in networking infrastructure. "SDN and NFV are critical elements of Intel's vision to transform the expensive, complex networks of today to a virtualized,
programmable, standards-based architecture running commercial off-the-shelf hardware," said Rose Schooler, vice president of Intel Architecture Group.
Data centers and network infrastructure providers are under constant pressure to support new, revenue-generating services in the public and private cloud, yet the costs of building the infrastructure are often too high to do so. The reference designs and development kits are an important part of Intel's strategy to enable the industry to move toward open, standards-based technologies such as SDN and NFV. In doing so, telecommunications and cloud service providers will be better able to reduce capital and
operating expenses while also delivering new services for revenue growth.
SDN and NFV are complementary networking technologies poised to transform how networks are designed, deployed and managed across data center and telecom infrastructure environments. By separating control and data planes, SDN allows the network to be programmed and managed externally at much larger and more dynamic scale for better traffic control across the entire datacenter.
NFV allows service providers to virtualize and manage networking functions such as firewall, VPN or intrusion detection service as virtual applications running on a high-volume x86-based server.
Acording to Intel, many ISVs, OEMs and service providers are building innovative solutions on top of its switch reference architecture, including ATT Foundry, Big Switch Network, Chunghwa Telecom, HP, NEC, NTT Data, Quanta, Super Micro and VMware.
"By decoupling the network from underlying hardware and enabling a new network architecture based on industry-standard x86 technology, network virtualization can transform the operational model of networking to help customers dramatically lower operational and capital expenses," said Allwyn Sequeira, vice president, Networking and Security, VMware. "VMware and Intel have built a strong relationship driving server virtualization on x86 platforms, and we are pleased to be working together to continue this transformation through network virtualization to enable the software-defined data center."
The three products announced by Intel included an Open Network Platform Switch Reference Design, a Data Plane Development Kit (Intel DPDK) Accelerated Open vSwitch, and an Open Network Platform Server Reference Design