Software-defined networking (SDN) is a major revolution in networking that is just starting to move from bleeding edge to leading edge customer adoption. 


But already, Intel® is starting to think about what comes next and how the software defined model can be more pervasive in cloud-scale data centers. A key factor in those plans is the Open Networking Platform (ONP) that we announced in April.


That was my takeaway from the announcement about Intel’s cloud infrastructure data center strategy.  If you read the press release and the related presentations and watch the videos, you will see that the emphasis is on the strategy and several new microprocessors, including the Avoton and Rangely 22nm Atom processors, and the 14nm Broadwell SoC.


I want to unpack a bit about how the ONP fits in this next-generation data center strategy.  The architecture of the next-generation cloud infrastructure data center is built on three technology pillars:

  • Workload-optimized technologies: Examples here include deploying servers with the different CPU, memory and I/O capabilities based on the workload.
  • Composable resources: Moving from building server racks from discrete servers, networking equipment, etc to deploying a more integrated solution. Intel is making strides here with its Rack-Scale Architecture initiative.
  • Software-defined infrastructure: this is using a software controller to direct data flows to available resources which helps overcome bottlenecks keeping data centers from overprovisioning.


The ONP initiative combines our low-latency network processing, switching and interface hardware with a customizable software stack that works with third-party SDN controllers and network applications.


Already, the ONP “Seacliff Trail” 10GbE / 40GbE SDN top-of-rack switch plays a key role in the Rack Scale Architecture.


But the ONP also provides the foundation for a future where the SDN controller evolves into a workload orchestration controller – directing data flows not only to network resources but also orchestrating computing, memory and storage resources as well. 


Our open approach means that ONP infrastructure can support new controllers or orchestration applications.  The switching architecture of the Intel Ethernet Switch FM6000 chip family is designed for evolving network standards with industry-low L3 latency (400ns), high throughput and microcode programmability that gives it plenty of ability to support future standards.


Like the Intel strategy for next-generation cloud data center infrastructure, ONP is both comprehensive and high performance, with the openness and flexibility that allows our customers to innovate as well.