Virtualization Technology News and Information
Q&A: Interview with Netronome, Talking Growth of SDN and NFV in 2014

The network is becoming sexy again thanks in large part to the growth of the modern data center, virtualization and cloud environments.  And with these dynamic environments comes the need for a dynamic networking system, something that a network virtualization solution can help provide.  So to find out more about SDN and NFV, I reached out to Netronome and spoke with Jarrod Siket, the company's SVP and GM of marketing. 

VMblog:  Give us some background on why Netronome is shifting its focus to SDN and NFV architectures.

Jarrod Siket:  Netronome was founded on the notion of open computing and open networking. Our first reference designs in 2007 were launched as OpenAppliances. Our vision has long-been for open architectures, primarily based on x86 processing, hosting standard Linux-based applications, accelerated by Netronome flow processors. We bring high performance processors, often used in NIC configurations, and software that accelerates these platforms.

Today many trends are now aligning with our early vision. Networks and devices are transitioning from proprietary hardware and closed software to commodity hardware and open software. Cloud and mobile computing are driving the need for a new network with seamless service migration, simplified management, tenant isolation and massive scale out in the data center. Many organizations struggle to run their wide area networks efficiently and SDN eases the work of running large networks by moving complex and proprietary ASICs and APIs to standard interfaces that can manipulate how and where traffic goes in a data center.

At Netronome, we want to bring unmatched performance and programmability to virtualized servers, networks and services. We are focusing on SDN and NFV because the use of open software on standard, high-volume servers and switches can reduce costs, simplify deployments and management, and enable horizontal scale-out - while accelerating innovation.

VMblog:  Please explain the products and set of features that the SDN launch delivers.

Siket:  With the new product launch, we are now offering a suite of FlowNIC PCIe Gen3 cards that scale up to 200 Gbps, in addition to a new FlowEnvironment software package that delivers standards-based APIs and configuration protocols for virtual switch offload and acceleration. Our new FlowNIC family combines the industry's highest performance and port density into a PCIe Gen3 adapter. The cards feature up to four PCIe Gen3 interfaces, as well as, 216 programmable cores to align with the rapid change in SDN standards and protocols. We are thrilled to deliver software that includes standards-compliant support for Open vSwitch (OVS) 2.0, OpenFlow 1.4, Intel DPDK, and network virtualization protocols such as NV-GRE and VXLAN - and that is supported on both existing NFE-32xx acceleration cards and the new FlowNIC-6xxx cards.

VMblog:  How will the new data plane hardware and software improve performance of virtual switches and networking functions?

Siket:  In order to virtualize the network, you need to make every edge device an intelligent touch point while supporting more advanced networking tasks. Our new FlowEnvironment software delivers more than a 20X increase to virtual switching performance, drastically increasing the number of available virtual machine instances per server. The FlowNICs' 216 programmable cores allow them to keep pace with the rapid changes in SDN protocols and standards. When these features are combined, they solve many of the scalability problems seen in virtual switch implementations where high throughput and I/O frequencies are required, while still maintaining the evolution of a software-based edge. This broad applicability to any virtualized server allows the new hardware and software to increase utilization and operating efficiencies.

VMblog:  And how do Netronome's flow processing solutions help customers overcome the limitations of other common switching solutions?

Siket:  Standard servers struggle with inefficient CPUs, NICs that can't offload and high overheads. Our flow processing solutions help customers overcome the limitations of common switching solutions by allowing multiple header fields to process, while improving port density and bandwidth, and maintaining software control and orchestration. This is done by replacing a complex infrastructure with a simplified packet core, surrounded by a software-based, intelligent edge. The intelligent edge directs traffic among virtual machines across a sophisticated overlay network, and still provides network and security services. Netronome's solutions prevent the complex and fluctuating workloads from interfering with application and network performance.

VMblog:  A recent announcement included a number of testimonials from a wide-range of customers. What is a common theme that customers addressed in regards to Netronome's solutions?

Siket:  Many of our customers have addressed how impressed they are with our products meeting even the most challenging network requirements. Unlike competitors, our acceleration cards and software allow standard servers to excel in next-generation data centers, giving our customers a solution that can easily extend across multiple locations. Our products simply work in standard server designs with standard Linux applications, and provide significant increases to network throughput while reducing CPU utilization for the applications. By launching the Netronome SDN and NFV product-line, we are creating new opportunities for customers to broaden the reach of their appliance solutions while benefiting from high-performance within today's traffic-heavy networks.

VMblog:  Finally, how will Netronome look to build off this major company announcement in the coming months?

Siket:  Releasing our SDN product line is a significant step into what we believe to be the future of networking. This transformation will only accelerate as companies recognize the benefits of SDN and NFV, and we have now positioned the company to be instrumental in how OEMs, ODMs and end-users construct their networks moving forward. 2014 has already been a memorable year for Netronome, and as more companies adopt SDN and NFV architectures we're excited to see where it takes us.


Once again, thank you to Jarrod Siket, SVP and GM of marketing at Netronome, for taking time out to speak with VMblog about this very interesting topic.  You can find out more about Netronome at the company's web site.

Published Thursday, March 20, 2014 7:02 AM by David Marshall
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