Intel just outlined plans for three strategic reference architectures that it says will make it possible for the IT and telecom industries to accelerate hardware and software development for software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). Intel announced the plans at the Open Networking Summit Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.
According to the chipmaker, these reference architectures -- which target the telecommunications, cloud data center and enterprise data center infrastructure market segments -- combine open standards for SDN and NFV with Intel hardware and software.
Integrating SDN and NFV on standard x86 Intel platforms lowers both acquisition and management costs while unlocking new network infrastructure possibilities, Intel said.
"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 and general manager of Intel's Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group.
Relieving Infrastructure Pressure
Data centers and network infrastructure providers are under constant pressure to support new, revenue-generating services in the public and private cloud. However, the costs of building the infrastructure are often too high to drive innovation. Intel sees the reference designs and development kits as an important part of its strategy to enable the industry to move toward open, standards-based technologies such as SDN and NFV.
In doing so, the company said, 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 that are set to transform how networks are designed, deployed and managed across data center and telecom infrastructure environments. By separating control and data planes, Intel said, SDN allows the network to be programmed and managed externally at much larger and more dynamic scale for better traffic control across the entire data center. 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.
Code-named "Seacliff Trail," the Intel Open Network Platform Switch Reference Design is based on scalable Intel processors, Intel Ethernet Switch 6700 series and Intel Communications Chipset 89xx series, and is available now. The Intel DPDK Accelerated Open vSwitch is initially planned to be released with the Intel ONP Server Reference Design in the third quarter of this year. The third server reference platform, codenamed "Sunrise Trail," is based on the Intel Xeon processor, Intel 82599 Ethernet Controller and Intel Communications Chipset 89xx series.
Moore's Law Obsolete
Laura DiDio, principal at Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, for her take on the news. She told us the key word in today's Intel announcement is "acceleration." The fact is, she said, "Moore's Law" -- named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore back in the late 1960s -- which posits that chip processing power doubles every two years, is becoming obsolete.
"Technology changes are occurring much more rapidly. Nowadays, corporations want to see and experience technology advancements in a year or even less," DiDio said. "The caveat is, new technology must be open and it must interoperate and integrate with existing technologies and devices in order for it to be viable to mainstream users."
She pointed out that SDN and NFV are complementary reference architectures that do all of those things for switches and servers by leveraging the OpenFlow and Open vSwitch protocols to lower development costs, reduce complexity and get products like custom appliances to market faster.
"Today's announcements also reaffirm Intel's commitment to drive the use of open technology standards and reference architectures and solidify its position and presence in the pivotal virtualization and cloud computing market segments," DiDio said.