Building cloud-ready networks—the time is now
By Sandra Rivera, Vice President Data Center Group and GM, Network Platforms Group, Intel
Imagine a world where doctors will be able to monitor patients from thousands of miles away, and even perform medical procedures remotely. Or where engineers can control industrial equipment in real-time in dangerous environments, such as mines. These are just a few examples of experiences driving the need for a new approach to the network. It's time to transform legacy, purpose built networks to the agile, cloud-ready networks of the future. On November 9, I announced two critical building blocks for making network transformation possible, inside and outside the data center.
For the past several years, Intel has worked throughout the industry to drive the transformation of network infrastructure, based on network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN). Intel is a key contributor to industry standards bodies and open source communities, and with Intel® Network Builders, we’ve created an ecosystem of more than 180 companies across the NFV and SDN value chain. Intel® Open Network Platform is empowering the ecosystem with an open source reference architecture built on standards-based hardware, and the recently-announced Intel® Network Builders Fast Track is accelerating optimization, integration, and interoperability of NFV and SDN solutions. And our partnerships with end users have sped matchmaking of requirements with technology that addresses their needs.
The result? Commercial deployments coming to market that solve real business problems for real customers. Virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) is speeding service delivery to enterprise and residential customers. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is providing better call quality and more enhanced services. These and other NFV-based services have the potential for significant OpEx savings for service providers. In all, we’ve tracked over 40 new deployments just this year, with well over 100 more in the pipeline.
Partnerships are instrumental to our collective success. One great example is our partnership with Cisco, and I was excited to welcome Jeff Spagnola, vice president of global service provider sales, on stage with me at our launch event. He shared how Cisco’s Open Network Architecture is enabling service providers to monetize these new consumer and business experiences. And Verizon’s senior vice president of network planning and administration, Ed Chan, shared the challenges Verizon is facing, and how, as one example, their cloud-based network slicing has decreased service delivery from weeks down to less than a day!
The transformed network will consist of virtualized network functions (VNFs) running on standard, high volume servers—solutions that are more programmable and reconfigurable than traditional network elements, enabling the intelligence and flexibility the network needs. Higher performance and capacity is also required throughout the entire network. This combination of performance and agility is made possible through Intel technology innovation, and our launch event showcased two new Intel products delivering these innovations.
Provide intelligent, high-performance Ethernet connectivity in the network core.
The Intel® Ethernet Multi-host Controller FM10000 is the first high bandwidth server networking product to integrate Intel’s best of breed Ethernet controllers with advanced Ethernet switch capabilities. It provides up to 200 Gbps of PCI Express (PCIe) bandwidth across up to 8 PCIe interfaces to Intel® Xeon® processors and offers flexible Ethernet port configurations of 1, 10, 25, 40, and 100 Gbps. The FM10000 switch resources include frame processing up to 960Mpps, integrated TCAM, and integrated tunneling engines.
This product line also offers Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) acceleration enhancements, speeding critical NFV capabilities, such as virtual switching and network services header (NSH) processing. This low-latency virtual switching speeds performance across VNFs on the same server. And NSH acceleration will speed network service chaining to dynamically stitch together VNFs, and also improve efficiency of traffic prioritization and steering. And these are just a few of the NFV accelerations FM10000 offers.
FM10000 also enables new and efficient data center usage models. The multi-host controller can connect multiple servers, reducing cost, power, and top-of-rack switch port usage, while simplifying rack cabling and delivering lower latency for east-west traffic—critical for driving greater networking efficiency in the data center.
Left: Intel® Ethernet Multi-host Controller FM10000. Right: Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1500 Product Family
Provide more intelligence at the edge of the network.
Earlier I talked about futuristic use cases like remote medicine and real-time control for mining. But even nearer term, customers are demanding instantaneous downloads, better video quality, and more personalized services. All of these experiences require more throughput in the core of the network, but the volume of data and the low latency needs will increasingly demand moving intelligence and performance to the network edge. That's what we're enabling with the new Intel® Xeon® Processor D-1500 Product Family of processors.
The Intel Xeon processor D family is the first Xeon-class system-on-a-chip (SoC)—it's smaller; it uses less power; it has a smaller footprint in your system. With hardware-assisted virtualization technology, you can put NFV- and SDN-based solutions built on Intel Xeon-class processing at the network edge, like appliances, routers, and switches built in smaller form factors that have more stringent power and environmental constraints.
But bringing more processing power to the edge also necessitates that we provide secure solutions for our end users. The powerful performance of the Xeon core coupled with Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard instructions (AES-NI) , Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) and enhanced Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) features allows customers to develop cutting-edge scalable security appliances with the power to protect from a higher number of threats than ever before in a dense form factor.
Meeting the challenge
The challenge before us in networking is staggering. Analysts say by 2019, networks must carry 2 zettabytes of data annually. (How big is that? A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes, or 36 million years of HD video!) And by 2020, 50 billion devices will connect to the internet. So we're working together with communications service providers and ecosystem players to accelerate network transformation. We're doing it on a global scale, and we're starting now. The shift has begun, and we're investing in and driving the future of networking.