The networking industry is going to witness some fascinating new trends in 2017. Make sure you take advantage of them.
Network Function Virtualization going Mainstream
NFV is by no means a new concept. In recent months we have been witnessing tools like Open vSwitch being implemented in various network infrastructures. But the concept of NFV is not yet mainstream in the networking industry because of the performance overhead created by running huge number of trivial tasks in general purpose CPUs.
This will change thanks to programmable network cards built around powerful FPGA chips. They provide clock-accurate processing and performance guarantees that pure software solutions fail to offer and are mission critical to communication service providers and SLAs that vendors need to guarantee to their customers.
On Demand generated Packet Processing through P4
P4 (Programming Protocol-Independent Packet Processors) is a programming language developed by a group of Stanford academic researchers headed by Nick McKeown and Martin Izzard. McKeown and Izzard then left Stanford to start Barefoot Networks, a company dedicated to development of new type of reprogrammable chip that has raised more than $150 mil of venture capital up till this day, which is a great testimony to the promise investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Hewlett Packard or Goldman Sachs see in P4.
The P4 language is closely tied to NFV. To program FPGA sounds great in theory, but is much harder to do in practice, because it requires expertise in low-level programming language like VHDL or Verilog. P4 programming language addresses this problem by abstracting the control plane from the hardware layer and thus it gives network operators the power to change the functionality of the programmable hardware much more easily.
100 Gbps as the New Standard
This one is actually pretty straightforward. Demand for higher quality real-time entertainment like video streaming means more data being transferred through networks in any given time, which drives demand for higher bandwidth. And wider bandwidth puts pressure on all sorts of networking appliances. Simply put, 10G cannot and will not last forever.
But straightforward does not mean easy. Hardware of respectable performance is necessary to build a solution that can operate in real-time with 100 Gbps. And since Netcope was the first company to introduce 100G-ready network cards, this is the area where we have accumulated experience, since our products have already proven the ability to get 100G traffic to and from host SW applications in a number of real-world use cases.
To protect modern network infrastructures from malicious activity, it is necessary to deploy IDS/IPS solutions that are capable of real-time Deep Packet Inspection. Because of the amount of data that flows through high-speed networks of today, it is unfeasible to perform DPI on all the data in software only.
The answer to this problem is to filter the traffic in hardware on per-session basis. Such filtering can offload that DPI-irrelevant deluge of data represented by real-time entertainment like Youtube and Netflix videos. Thanks to this, CPU is not overwhelmed and it can perform DPI on intrusion candidates only. Netcope Session Filter has been designed exactly for such an acceleration and can typically save over 60% of bandwidth
FPGA to Every Household
Ok, maybe not in every household, but it is safe to say that FPGA technology is more and more common. For instance Intel’s executive vice president Diane Bryant said that “by 2020, a third of all servers inside all the major cloud computing companies will include FPGAs.” Needless to say that this is a great opportunity for companies that want to develop their own FPGA-based solution.
However, it is not easy to develop whole FPGA-based solution from the ground up. It requires expert knowledge of Ethernet, PCI Express and related technologies. Netcope Development Kit is a bundle of component that handles repetitive tasks and lets you focus on the IP core itself.