SDN ushered in an era of fast open innovation in networking: Those who own and operate networks now take it for granted that they can code, commission or simply download the control plane they need in their network, customizing it to best meet their needs. The ONOS SDN Controller is an example of an open source control plane, rapidly adopted by large network operators.
But networks are not determined by the control plane alone. In order to really determine what a network does, we need to define how packets are processed in switches as well. And so in the next chapter of this story, the forwarding plane has moved up and out of hardware into software. This is made possible by the advent of the P4 language, an open source and community-owned programming language that lets us decide how packets are processed in the network.
But how will the control plane tell the forwarding plane how to process packets? And then how will the control plane control a wide variety of switches, in a consistent way, while allowing the forwarding plane to constantly evolve and improve?
We introduce P4 Runtime, a new open source project to solve this problem. P4 Runtime was first described at the 2017 P4 Workshop. Since then, P4.org, Google, and Barefoot have teamed up with ONF to create the first open source version of P4 Runtime integrated with the ONOS open source control plane.
In this webinar, we will explain what P4 Runtime is, and why it will make it much easier to program large networks from the top down, empowering programmers to finally move the definition of networks from hardware into software.