Increased Standardization Is Accelerating Network Transformation

Networking infrastructure today is in the midst a massive transformation. Migration of fixed function networking workloads to standards based server platforms running enterprise grade open source networking software like Intel Data Plane Development Kit are leading this transformation. Although the standardization process has done a marvelous job in addressing packet flows, opportunities are being missed at higher function levels with respect to virtualization, security, compression, and power management to name a few.  Recognizing this void, the industry is establishing standard architectural approaches – namely software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) – to improve the way networks are deployed and services are delivered.

Infrastructure Convergence

With communications networks moving to server technology, we’re seeing a convergence of telecom, data center, and enterprise infrastructure technologies. In fact, technologies from data centers (e.g., virtualization, power management, security, and standard hardware and software) are being applied across the board, and the response has been extremely enthusiastic. While technologies including DPDK are realizing adoption in cloud and enterprise environments.  Let me give two examples:

Telefónica* and NEC* announced field trials in Brazil designed to virtualize the equipment installed on a customer's premises, called vCPE. Their goal is to simplify the home equipment installation process along with Telefónica's broadband network access and connectivity installations. Telefónica explained, “Our challenge is providing a differentiated user experience while overcoming rigidity of current technology … flexibility becomes the only way to efficiently adapt to our customers’ needs in a scenario with increasing uncertainty.”

SK Telecom* and Nokia Solutions and Networks* (NSN) completed the world’s first proof-of-concept of NSN Liquid Applications over LTE, which turns base stations into local hubs of service creation and delivery. SK Telekom noted, “We verified the feasibility of telco cloud technology and can now make plans for our future commercial cloud solutions for enhanced flexibility and operational efficiency.”

Open Standards-based Acceleration

Network equipment built on standards-based architectures helps reduce the effort and cost to deploy common network functions, like compression and cryptography. For instance, equipment manufacturers can cost-effectively add these workloads using open source frameworks like zib (compression) and OpenSSL (security). But with increasing throughput requirements, acceleration is needed. That’s where Intel® QuickAssist Technology comes in, boosting the performance of these solutions and others with special-purpose hardware accelerators that can easily be called into action.

The accelerators are integrated in a family of pin-compatible server chipsets, called the Intel® Communications Chipset 89xx Series, and in the Intel® Atom™ processor C2758, which is ideal for entry-level, network equipment. The technology delivers scalable crypto performance up to 50 Gbps, PKE performance of 40 kops/sec (2 kb keys), and compression up to 24 Gbps per chipset – via on-chip hardware accelerators that greatly minimize the load on the CPU.

With a dual-socket Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2600 v2 platform with the Intel Communications Chipset 89xx Series, performance scales up to 255 Mpps of L3 forwarding (64  bytes packets), 110 Gbps of IPsec throughput, 200 Gbps of OpenSSL* throughput, and 140 Gbps of deep packet inspection (DPI) throughput.

Developers can dramatically boost the performance of open source solutions with no, or minor, code changes. A simple API invokes the hardware-based compression and cryptography acceleration supported by Intel QuickAssist Technology using Intel-developed or open source framework patches.

The Network of the Future

So how do we see the future of networking?  We see networks that are built increasingly on standards based architectures – delivering maximum flexibility and minimizing TCO.  We see use of a common architecture and common tools to accelerate innovation and reduce development costs.  We see further consolidation of telco, cloud and enterprise technologies allowing end users to improve time to provisioning while increasing flexibility and scale.  We see operator networks built using these standards based approaches to drive down Opex/Capex and increase services revenue.