A new virtual software-defined ICT world

06 March 2014

The ICT world is moved by the demands of performance, economy and competition. The explosion of audiovisual content, mobile consumer and business devices, Big Data and the Internet of Things is straining the current networking architecture, which must respond to dynamic computing and storage needs coupled with an unprecedented level of performance complexity in terms of the range of applications, types of traffic and volumes of data).

A new software-defined network paradigm is permeating all ICT. The emerging architecture is shaking up the traditional network infrastructure. Even as hardware engineering continues to evolve, the need for a solution that meets the requirements of enterprises, carriers and end-users seems to fall away from a static conventional network – constrained by rigid protocols and ill-suited standards – towards one that is intelligent, programmable, centrally controlled, virtualized and cost-effective, in other words, to Software-Defined Networking or SDN. This technology abstracts the software and control from the hardware and it is robust enough to tackle the complexity of the network (particularly its control layers), offering almost limitless flexibility and scalability. It’s an ideal solution for the evolving needs of high-bandwidth computing and networking.

The newly launched EU project NetIDE project aims to bring SDN a step further, as most of the currently proposed SDN frameworks are hardly interoperable, thus limiting the huge innovative potential SDN may unveil.

NetIDE will create a one-stop integrated solution for the development of SDN applications that covers all the development lifecycle: from design to programming and from deployment to testing and debugging. What is the expected result? A tool that enables the development of network control plane programs that are independent from programmable network apparatus vendors, as well as from the programming language used to develop the network programs. The management of the network is thus simplified, more intelligent and therefore less error prone and easier to govern.

Hardware is subject to proprietary constraints, SDN doesn’t have to be. It is in fact founded on OpenFlow protocol standards. The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Software-Defined Networking proposed by NetIDE is vendor-neutral software that facilitates the development of portable network applications. To achieve a language that can interwork between different controllers and network devices the project also aims to define a common language able to cover different network programming styles: the NetIDE IRF (Intermediate Representation Format).

NetIDE will operate from January 2014 to December 2016 and it brings together partners from Italy (CREATE-NET), Spain (IMDEA Networks Institute & Telefónica R&D), Germany (Fujitsu Technology Solutions & University of Paderborn), France (Thales Communication & Security), Ireland (Intel) and the Czech Republic (CZ.NIC). Dr. Dejan Kostić, European Research Council Starting Grant awardee and Research Associate Professor at IMDEA Networks, is leading the Institute’s involvement in NetIDE. Dr. Kostić is also the Principal Investigator of the ERC project PROPHET*. PROPHET explores new paths for increasing network reliability in our interconnected society, by means of a simplified development and deployment of high-performance, reliable distributed systems.

*PROPHET: Simplifying Development and Deployment of High-Performance, Reliable Distributed Systems.

Source(s): IMDEA Networks Institute
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