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OCP Summit. ONF Members Prominent.

Feb 6, 2014

ONF’s Dan Pitt reflects on the annual Open Compute Project Summit V. 

The Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit V, an annual affair, attracted over 3,400 registrants and a whole lot of demos to the newly redesigned San Jose Convention Center.  The OCP Summit V was an announcement platform for many interesting Software-Defined Networking (SDN) developments, and many ONF members were in attendance at the event.

ONF Facebook Board members Najam Ahmad and Omar Baldonado were there prominently, of course, as was our Goldman Sachs board alternate Matthew Liste, who appeared on a panel moderated by Najam along with Martín Casado (VMWare), JR Rivers (Cumulus), and Dave Maltz (Microsoft).

My favorite aspect of attending the OCP Summit V is to go to OCP technical workshops and meetings to follow the progress of the network switch project, as well as the general progress of the open-hardware data center. I was able to attend some of the main sessions and all of the network-switch tracks, providing some interesting dialogue on the state of network switches.

Here are the news items that captured my attention

  •  Broadcom, Intel, and Mellanox have now announced OCP switch reference designs based on their chips. Mellanox’s hardware (for two switches, top of rack and spine, both on display) is available with OpenFlow® 1.3.1.
  •  On Tuesday Mellanox published the interfaces to their SwitchX-2 SDK. Only Centec Networks had opened an SDK to a switching chip before.
  •   On Wednesday, Broadcom announced its intention to open the API to the SDK for their data-center switching chips (Trident), with others to come later. They showed OpenFlow® 1.3+ and Layer2/3 modules running above this API in user-space switch software. The actual release of the API spec is targeted for a few months from now.
  •  Intel showed its bare-metal switch spec, and also said they are actively thinking about opening their switch SDK API.
  •  Big Switch Networks announced availability of their open-source network operating system called Open Networking Linux. It comes with built-in OpenFlow® support.
  •  Microsoft unveiled how they build their data centers, and even published a hardware spec. Up to now, people saw only these modular closed trailers, not their contents.
  •  ARM published an open hardware spec for OS and application developers for all ARMv8-A based servers. This specification provides a framework for the deployment of innovative ARM architecture-based solutions in data center applications, and it will help accelerate software development and enable portability between ARM-based platforms.

The data-center market is pioneering this open-hardware model, but I think a lot of its elements will propagate to other computing environments over time. I’ll be especially eager to see how the disaggregated rack develops.

– Dan Pitt, Executive Director