As the telco industry increasingly mixes with what traditionally has been the domain of IT professionals, Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK) is getting in the middle of it all by establishing the OpenFastPath (OFP) Foundation, an initiative it launched with ARM and Enea to combine the advanced technologies and security features of the telco world with the open source approach of the IT domain.
The OFP Foundation is a non-profit, open-source software initiative dedicated to lowering technology barriers and fostering innovation around software-defined networking (SDN). It aims to create a "vibrant open-source community" around a standardized, accelerated TCP/IP stack that provides top performance for SDN-ready network functions, according to a press release. For operator networks, the new fast-path stack means reduced IP latency, higher capacity and thus faster packet forwarding and lower implementation costs, Nokia says.
While ARM is a well-known for its chips, Enea, based in Kista, Sweden, says it is one of the few companies in the world that can offer a combination of real-time operating systems (RTOS) and Linux. In addition to the three founding members, the OFP initiative is supported by several industry players including AMD, Cavium, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard and Linaro.
While a number of initiatives focus on open source, including the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), Open Daylight and Open Source SDN Network Operating System (ONOS) organizations, a Nokia spokesman suggested the reason it decided to form a new organization has to do with the diversity of architectures out there and the fact that TCP/IP is not really covered in any of the other open source initiatives.
"IP communications is fundamental in all networking technologies, including NFV and SDN," the spokesman told FierceWirelessTech. "High throughput and low latency will be key requirements for emerging applications, both in the telco and IT domains. OFP will utilize the open source community to create an optimized TCP/IP stack to ensure optimal application performance across a diverse range of architectures (e.g. Intel, ARM, Linux)."
Last month, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), which is on track to be combined with Nokia next year, officially joined the ONOS organization to contribute its know-how and accelerate SDN/NFV adoption as well as drive innovation.
Earlier this year, Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) named Nokia, along with Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and Juniper Networks, its initial SDN vendors, and AT&T (NYSE: T) announced in October that it had added Nokia to its Domain 2.0 supplier program to help develop its software-centric network. AT&T says it made progress this year in hitting its goal of virtualizing and controlling 5 percent of its target network, with plans to virtualize 75 percent by 2020.
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