ONF and P4 - A (packet) match made in heaven

P4, the open source programming language (which sits at the heart of APS technology) has found itself a new home within the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

We all know, any choice of home is about ‘location, location, location’ - and we think the ONF offers the most exciting new neighbourhood for this project. 

Vendor independence, sound management and, above all a diverse, healthy community, are going to be vital for P4 to sustain its growing position as the lingua franca of the intelligent, programmable network. And the ONF is the right place to guarantee all this and more. 

User-lead, in the interests of carriers and network operators, and with a host of successful infrastructure projects under its wing, the ONF should guarantee the vendor independence and end user focus needed to ensure P4 language can deliver as a truly open, community driven project.

P4 is now the common language of programmable networking, the programmable data plane, and networking data processing. It provides a single syntax, used to define powerful new intelligent functions for everything from switches, to routers, network interface cards and more. Here at APS Networks, we see P4 as the real medium for the next decade or more of network innovation, and we are building our range of programmable switches to give P4 developers an unparalleled canvas to create cutting-edge network applications. 

The relatively simple syntax of P4 belies the breadth and scope of the sophisticated solutions that it can be used to build. Increasingly, P4 is used to solve complex network requirements. These requirements are only going to increase as intelligent networks become the hub for the IoT, smart cities, Industry 4.0, autonomous vehicles and innovative new consumer devices that leverage technology such as augmented reality.

Using P4, an SDN switch can be turned into anything from a router; to a content-aware load balancer; to a sophisticated, wire speed layer 7 security appliances. However, it can do much more. By utilizing its powerful ability to match and process network data, it becomes hard to find any limits to the potential uses for P4 across industries from telecoms, datacenter and cloud providers, through fintech and security to media and broadcast.

And for us, this is where open source comes in. The real strength and potential of P4 is not only going to be unlocked by the end-user, it is the end-user. Free, open, user-lead innovation and collaboration is what makes well-run open source projects unbeatable in their field. 

For decades, the networking industry has lumbered forward awkwardly, labouring under the chains of a small cartel of monopolistic vendors. This group offered the end-user any colour box they wanted as long as it was black: a thirty-year-long stream of vastly overpriced switching hardware and proprietary appliances, which delivered the bare minimum in the way of technological advancement. 

P4 finally gives network users and operators the freedom to innovate and collaborate, with the support of a much broader, more diverse, and more competitive community of vendors, engineers and developers. 

P4’s new stewardship under the ONF is great news for the future strength and independence of this community.

If this has piqued your interest, then you should absolutely attend the EuroP4 event. APS Networks is proud to sponsor EuroP4 and CoNEXT 2020, and are looking forward to the events taking place from the 1st to the 4th of December. We will attend the job event on Friday, December 4th, between 4:55pm and 6pm presenting the Academia & Research Program, which was founded to support the development and the adoption of open source technology. The collaborative event brings together a wealth of talent in the P4 space and will be showing off the innovation possible with P4. We look forward to (virtually) seeing you there. In the meantime, if you want to know more about P4, or how our innovative programmable switches make use of it, then drop us a line at enquiries@aps-networks.com

Sarah Wagner

Blogs

  • Smart Cities: A Deeply Connected Network Fabric

    A Smart City is a city that is deeply connected by network devices throughout its fabric. This is a city that has the potential to reconfigure itself to suit changing needs. Our range of switches answer these needs. We use the P4 network programming language in our devices to allow network operators to develop intelligent network topologies.
    Andrew Heal
  • APS Networks Chosen as Solution Partner in the Intel Network Builders Winners‘ Circle Program

    The Intel Winners Circle for 2021 has been announced, and we are thrilled to be recognized within the Solution Partners in the Intel Network Builders category. Our Dedicated P4 switching platform was recognized for rapid market adoption and pioneering industry co-development projects.
    Alexander Jeffries
  • ONF and P4 - A (packet) match made in heaven

    P4, the open source programming language (which sits at the heart of APS technology) has found itself a new home within the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). We all know, any choice of home is about ‘location, location, location’ - and we think the ONF offers the most exciting new neighbourhood for this project.
    Sarah Wagner
  • Why it's Time for Accuracy at the Heart of the Network

    Time has always been at the core of our devices. Our current range of switches have a time accuracy of four nanoseconds; that's only slightly longer than it takes light to travel a meter. But we feel light is tardy and takes _far_ too long to get places. Our next generation switches will enable astonishing levels of time accuracy, enabling a whole new generation of time-sensitive applications.
    Andy Heal
  • Virtual EuroP4 Workshop and CoNEXT 2020

    The P4 programming language is the most significant step change for the Networking industry in decades. APS Networks is proud and excited to be sponsoring the upcoming virtual 3rd P4 Workshop in Europe (EuroP4). EuroP4 Workshop, which will be hosted online on the 1st of December as part of the CoNEXT 2020 virtual event.
    Sarah Wagner
  • Long Live Tofino™

    The start-up Barefoot Networks is no more, but is now a business unit in the Data Platforms Group within Intel and the range of P4-programmable Tofino™ switches is very much here to stay.
    Sarah Wagner
  • Why Program a Switch?

    With the emerging generation of programmable switches you maintain the normal switching protocols; we are not reinventing the wheel here. But you can overlay your own network logic to be executed simultaneously, at blistering wirespeed throughput.
    Andy Heal
  • > print (“hello networking world”)

    APS Networks is about using our blend of development skills in hardware, firmware/embedded, OS and application software, to help blow the world of closed networking wide open.
    Alexander Jeffries