Intel outlines SDN ambitions

Chipmaker Intel has launched three “strategic reference architectures” that the firm claims will enable IT and telecom firms to accelerate hardware and software development for software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV).

The reference architectures, which seek to provide a template solution for SDN and NFV architectures, combine open standards for the two technologies with Intel hardware and software. The aim is to make networks more agile and intelligent, helping companies adapt to changing market dynamics. The three reference architectures relate to telecommunications, cloud datacentres and enterprise datacentres.

Integrating SDN and NFV on Intel’s standard x86 platforms allows companies to lower network acquisition and management costs, claims Intel.

“SDN and NFV are critical elements of Intel’s vision to transform the expensive, complex networks of today to a virtualised, programmable, standards-based architecture running commercial off-the-shelf hardware,” said Rose Schooler, vice president of Intel architecture group and general manager of Intel’s communications and storage infrastructure Group.

“The reference designs announced today enable a new phase in the evolution of the network and represent Intel’s commitment to driving an open environment that fosters business agility and smart economics.”

SDN was one of the big topics at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with Ericsson, Huawei, NEC and Juniper Networks all making SDN announcements at the show.

According to Dimitris Mavrakis, senior research analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, these announcements imply that operators want to accelerate the evolution and adoption of virtualised environments, perhaps before the NFV forum standardises the telco SDN concept.

“Moreover, Tier-1 initiatives add more functionality on top of NFV, including service exposure, data centres and unified network control,” he said. “Although the industry has yet to decide about telco SDN, it’s clear that the big vendors are placing all bets on these new concepts.”

Stu Bailey, founder and CTO at network infrastructure automation software vendor Infoblox, believes Intel’s announcement could be significant for the networking landscape.

“Software has almost unlimited potential when coupled with generally available, inexpensive and programmable hardware. We’ve seen this potential realised in the PC and server industries with breakthroughs like cloud computing and the web,” he said. “The network is the next frontier of this type of innovation as the entire world – people and things – demands more and more from networks.”

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