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Netronome Spearheads Broad Community-Driven VNF Acceleration Initiative at OPNFV Mini-Summit

By Nick Tausanovitch | Jun 19, 2017

Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting for Netronome at the Data Plane and VNF Acceleration Mini Summit, which was part of the OPNFV Summit 2017 in Beijing. This session was sponsored by Netronome and hosted by Open-NFP, a worldwide, community-driven organization that enables open and collaborative research in the area of network function processing in server networking hardware.

From a Netronome perspective, our goal was to foster dialogue and establish a framework for developing common and open APIs for hardware acceleration of NFV functions. As a leading vendor of SmartNICs, it is our belief that the standardization of acceleration APIs will benefit equipment vendors and end users alike, leading to faster adoption and realization of TCO benefits for service providers.

We chose the OPNFV Summit as the venue for this discussion because it is a leading forum in the NFV community, consisting of hardware and software vendors and service providers that are dedicated to the principles of collaboration and open standards. Netronome has been pleased to be working with OPNFV for some time, having recently demonstrated our SmartNICs integrated with the OPNFV Danube release running on Nokia Airframe servers at the recent OPNFV Plugfest in Chatillon, France. You can read more about that in the OPNFV Plugfest Report here.

In the opening session of the Mini Summit, we considered the issue of data plane bottlenecks in the NFVi layer, and approaches to eliminate those bottlenecks with hardware acceleration technologies such as SmartNICs. A key theme was the importance of moving toward common upstreamed APIs for data plane acceleration to improve ease-of-use and avoid vendor lock-in.

In the second session, we discussed VNF acceleration technologies and architectures that can be used to further improve the efficiency of Telco networks. In this area there was a lot of great material, such as a presentation on VNF Acceleration Models and Offload Architectures for NFV, by Dejan Leskaroski of Affirmed Networks.

The third session was of high importance, as the focus was on moving towards and Open API for VNF acceleration – one of the key goals of the Mini Summit. In this session Nokia’s Tapio Tallgren presented a brief history of API efforts in the area of virtual switching and VNF acceleration. Then, Johann Tonsing, Netronome’s Chief Architect, made a proposal for a common and open API that would be collaboratively developed in the open community, suggesting an OPNFV project as a possible vehicle.

The fourth and final session, presented by Netronome’s Abhijeet Prabhune, focussed on the practical aspects of testing and verification of VNFs in an accelerated environment. As Abhijeet said, “If it isn’t tested, it doesn’t work.” Abhijeet described a proposal to set up a Pharos testing lab with cloud access to enable performance and interoperability testing of accelerated VNFs. This would enable users to immediately see and measure the potential TCO benefit of accelerating their VNFs.

The event was lively and interactive, with lots of good Q&A from the audience, which consisted of a great mix of companies and end users from China and around the globe. You can download the full presentation deck here. We also put out a press release for the event that you can check out here. We are grateful for all of the great input we received for the presentation materials from the likes of Affirmed, Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco, SK Telecom, and NEC. We also appreciate the endorsements we received in our press release from China Mobile, China Telecom, SK Telecom, Spirent Communications, ZTE, and last but not least, OPNFV!

For any inquiries regarding the APIs please email us at: vnfapi@open-nfp.org