To extend Software Defined Networking (SDN) to carrier networks, Intel and AT&T have created a joint effort in collaboration with university researchers and open source contributors. Software defined networking (SDN) offers a new approach to network management and programmability for the purpose of enabling more flexible network architectures and agile service deployments. SDN introduces new standards and mechanisms to manage networks and quickly introduce new functionality through centralized visibility and network control.
While SDN shows considerable promise, carrier networks remain a difficult challenge since user populations differ widely in density, physical surroundings can vary dramatically, and networks are large in scale. In order to support these diverse requirements, today’s carrier networks use a complex mix of communication technologies and dedicated equipment. Carrier providers are also exploring Network Function Virtualization (NFV) which must be integrated into the overall network architecture.
The Intel Strategic Research Alliance (ISRA), established by Intel and seeded with over $1M in 2014, aims to transform carrier network infrastructure by enabling software packet processing and flexible service architectures. The ISRA is led by computer networking researchers Sylvia Ratnasamy and Scott Shenker from University of California at Berkeley.
Additionally, AT&T has provided $1M in 2014 for ON.Lab, a non-profit organization led by Guru Parulkar that develops open source tools and platforms for SDN. ON.Lab is developing ONOS, an open and distributed network operating system for SDN for service provider networks working on performance, scale-out design, high availability, and core features. Intel is also a member of ON.Lab and a collaborator in the ONOS work.
Intel’s ISRA on SDN is hosted by UC Berkeley, but also includes researchers from Stanford University (Nick McKeown),Princeton University (Jennifer Rexford), Carnegie Mellon University (Vyas Sekar), and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne or EPFL (Katerina Argyraki). The focus areas of the alliance include novel approaches to adapt SDN to carrier networks, efficient software packet processing, and flexible service architectures for scaled networks.