In an IT world where more distributed applications than ever are sharing resources, the ability to prioritize what packets get processed when is rapidly becoming a critical requirement. To address that issue Barefoot Networks today unveiled a programmable network switch scheduled to be generally available next year.
Ed Doe, vice president of products and marketing for Barefoot Networks, says the startup is making extensive use of its Tofino switch chip and an open source P4 programming language that has specifically been developed to create a common programming environment for custom processors. As a result, Barefoot Networks is able to provide developers with compilers, tools, and applications needed to program a switch capable of processing packets at 6.5 terabits per second, at no cost.
Doe says rather than having to dedicate switches to a particular application to guarantee performance, or hope that quality of service (QoS) algorithms recognize what applications need priority in terms of throughput, the P4 programming tools give developers more granular control over what packets get processed when.
To extend the development of both its processor technology and the surrounding programming environment, Barefoot Networks also announced today that it has picked up an additional $57 million in funding to bring the total amount of funding in the company up to $130 million so far. The Tofino switch is expected to begin sampling in the fourth quarter of this year.
With more applications than ever being required to share the same network I/O resources, the network is more than ever a potential major I/O bottleneck. Of course, not every IT organization has the programming skills required to take control of their networks. But as many of these tools become more accessible, the ability to deploy and manage software-defined networks will improve.
In the meantime, organizations that see value in having that level of control might want to start thinking about where to make their next switch investment today because whatever they wind up buying next will more than likely be with them for years to come.