The telecom industry's growing push to adopt software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) appears to place Intel in a strong position to influence evolving network designs. With that in mind, the chipmaker announced three strategic reference architectures targeting the telecom, cloud data center and enterprise data center infrastructure market segments.
The architectures combine open standards for SDN and NFV with Intel hardware and software. "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," said Intel.
"All the control-layer function which is being separated out in SDN is definitely in Intel's wheelhouse, and they could very effectively play in that market," Yankee Group analyst Jennifer Pigg told Computerworld.
Virtualization and SDN are aimed at decoupling networks from underlying hardware by shifting network intelligence to software-based controllers. Networks can, thus, be less dependent on costly, complex and proprietary hardware and instead employ commercial off-the-shelf hardware to become more flexible, programmable and efficient.
SDN generated considerable buzz at this year's Mobile World Congress. However, it is early days for SDN when it comes to commercial mobile networks. The European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) only recently formed its Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) forum, and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is still gathering supporters for its OpenFlow SDN switching protocol.
Intel said its Open Network Platform (ONP) Switch Reference Design, codenamed Seacliff Trail, is available now. The design integrates Linux-based Open Network Software (ONS) from Intel's Wind River subsidiary. This allows for networking capabilities such as advanced tunneling as well as modular, open control plane and management interface supporting SDN standards such as OpenFlow and Open vSwitch.
The Intel Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) Accelerated Open vSwitch, a software system aimed at improving small packet throughput and workload performance, is slated for release with the Intel ONP Server Reference Design in the third quarter. Intel's ONP Server Reference Design platform, codenamed Sunrise Trail, enables virtual appliance workloads on standard Intel-architecture servers using SDN and NFV open standards for datacenter and telecom.
"We share Intel's vision of enabling the network transformation with SDN and NFV across the telecom industry," said Atsuo Kawamura, general manager at NEC's telecom carrier business unit, 1st carrier services division. "We are excited to work with Intel to design with the Intel DPDK Accelerated Open vSwitch into our virtual Evolved Packet Core to deliver industry-leading packet throughput and performance on Intel architecture."
Intel's reference designs fit in with the mission of the newly announced OpenDaylight Project, a multivendor initiative to develop an open-source SDN framework, said Rose Schooler, Intel architecture group vice president, who was quoted by Computerworld.
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