From the Core Network to the Data Center – A Paradigm Shift

History has proven on numerous occasions that businesses that ignore disruption ultimately get disrupted. Businesses who through strategic foresight, and who deliberately embrace disruption, consistently outperform their competitors.  Today, we have reached that tipping point of technological disruption in the datacenter with the adoption of Software Defined Infrastructure.   The benefits of moving from fixed function hardware solutions to platforms that are more intelligent, flexible and scalable are compelling and this disruption is being embraced in the communications networking for enterprise, cloud, and Telco usage models.

Up until now, the communications networking industry has been built primarily on fixed function appliances that are deployed to address a specific application but cannot be re-purposed to perform any other functions, despite sitting idle for large portions of their service life.  Customization or differentiation for the Service Providers on these purpose-built platforms has been challenging, to say the least. Long lead times for equipment deployment and the cost and complexity for qualifying and deploying new hardware has put additional strains on already challenging and growing capital and operating expenditures for the Service Providers.  With the advent of a hyper connected world stemming from the growth in smartphones, the Internet of things, bandwidth hungry applications such as video and social media and the ever expansive World Wide Web, the pressure to continually expand the networking infrastructure to meet customer and application demands has been unprecedented.

Over the past several years, Intel has worked closely with communications service providers and offered our expertise and support for how we can address the networking challenges, together with our ecosystem.  These customers – motivated by Intel’s leadership in the enterprise data center and cloud environments – want to extend the benefits of server volume economics, virtualization technologies and cloud business models to the networking infrastructure.  Coupled with our 4:1 workload consolidation strategy which aims to run the four major communications workloads – Application, Control, Data and Packet processing on single programmable and scalable architecture, Intel Architecture.

This opportunity to leverage commercial-off-the-shelf servers presents a compelling value proposition the service provider community.  Listening to our customers challenges, Intel has worked with global service providers and moved quickly to adopt technologies like Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) into communications networks.  NFV separates software from hardware using virtualization technologies to migrate fixed function device workloads to applications running on general purpose servers.  SDN represents the separation of the control plane from the data plane and provides a central control and view of the network.  Collectively NFV and SDN help create network abstraction for greater ease of programmability and reduces capital and operating expenses as well as lowers space and power consumption requirements. These serve as important catalysts for Intel’s technology leadership to drive change in the communications networking market.

At IDF 2013, we announced the Network Builders program, a member community of networking solution providers, which are investing in bringing NFV and SDN products to market. Today, this community has grown from an original 25 companies to over 80 members that are embracing an open standards approach to increasing the rate of innovation and reducing development complexity and cost of bringing networking solutions to the market. Intel’s leadership in providing reference architectures for networking on IA with open source software like Intel® Data Plane Development Kit™ has played a key role in enabling this community. At IDF 2014, we are showcasing 30 partner solutions including an NFV/SDN demonstration of dynamic service chaining of four virtual appliances running on a server based on our latest Grantley processors.  This demo shows how appliances that are based on purpose-built silicon can be transitioned to virtual appliances on IA based Xeon servers that take advantage of increased number of cores and new features and capabilities that increase workload performance and platform efficiency.  The result is an infrastructure that is highly programmable and scalable to meet changing user requirements.  We are also proving how the developer community can use broadly available platforms and the latest general purpose processor innovations to meet the stringent carrier grade requirements for security and quality of service expected in the communications networking market.

We are at an inflection point in the way networking solutions are developed and deployed for the dynamic and growing communications industry. Collaborating with the service providers and our ecosystem partners, we will be at the forefront of this transformation by enabling networking to run best on Intel Architecture.

See you all at IDF 2014!