Data centers

Data centers have undergone great changes in recent years. The transition from traditional structure based on core-aggregation-access tier model to more complex architectures caused need for more sophisticated methods of traffic management. The form of appliances used in data centers has been changing as well. Dedicated appliances are being replaced with unified white box servers, which are easier to manage and configure, and programmable smart NICs became popular for acceleration of computational-intensive tasks, monitoring purposes or diagnostics like in-band network telemetry (INT) or in-situ operations, administration and management (iOAM).


The concepts that changed the situation the most are software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). Software-defined networking helps to manage the traffic by splitting the network between control and data (or forwarding) plane. Each of these parts needs to be handled in a different way and allows for different optimizations. The most widespread solution for managing distributed control plane is Open Stack framework together with Open vSwitch (OvS) virtual switch for managing forwarding plane, which can be effectively offloaded with a smart NIC.

Network functions virtualization is used to process the traffic in virtual machines instead of dedicated hardware. The problem appears in the performance of virtual network functions (VNF) being performed on CPUs and necessity for numerous data transfers among virtual machines. It turned out to be effective to offload data-intensive tasks to hardware and let CPU cores dedicate to more complex control tasks. Smart NICs are able to handle the offload because they can be reprogrammed for a specific task like cryptography or pattern matching without hardware modification.

Netcope P4 was designed to offload key tasks to smart NICs and alleviate enormous load of high-speed network traffic being processed on CPU cores. It uses vendor-independent language P4 based on open standards and supported by a strong community. There are many use cases Netcope P4 can be used in, some of them are described in white papers mentioned below.

Read whitepapers:

Netcope Success Stories

Flowmon Networks

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U.S. trading firm deploys Tradecope

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