Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Red Hat, Intel Move to Certify Cloud Networks 

A certification process unveiled by Red Hat and Intel Corp. provides a cloud-based testbed for network operations supporting both virtual network functions as well as those increasingly delivered via application containers.

The partners said this week the certification effort is intended “to reflect realistic networking scenarios” for testing cloud-native network functions (CNF) and virtual network functions (VNF). The testbed service would provide scenarios based on current server hardware and reflects the growing use of open source software.

“The primary goals are to reduce deployment time and complexity, minimize risks of incompatibility, ensuring application performance is as expected and address customer issues surrounding automation and troubleshooting much earlier in the integration process,” the partners said in a blog post.

“The plan is to achieve this by running suites of automated test cases developed and maintained to be in line with industry standards,” they added.

Among the deployment challenges for VNFs is the difficulty of managing “single-purpose virtual appliances” once the migration from bare metal to virtual machines is completed. Scaling is also a challenge given the shift to cloud-native infrastructure, to wit: “legacy VNFs make this much harder, if not impossible,” the companies noted.

By contrast, CNFs are viewed as potential “cure” for the limitations of virtual network functions, primarily by moving many capabilities to containers. The cloud-native approach is promoted as a way of decoupling VMs from infrastructure, thereby easing management via emerging automation tools.

“Containerization of network architecture components makes it possible to run a variety of services on the same cluster and more easily on-board already decomposed applications, while dynamically directing network traffic to correct pods,” the companies added.

As more demanding enterprise applications emerge around technologies like 5G wireless and edge computing, Red Hat noted that the new testing framework would provide a more rigorous certification process for emerging cloud-native network functionality.

More demanding services will introduce greater network complexity, the company added, increasing future requirements for automating network deployment and management.

Early certification testing will concentrate on containers running on multiple platforms.

Red Hat also is allowing users of its OpenShift container and OpenStack platforms along with its flagship enterprise Linux offering to nominate cloud-native functions for testing and certification. The idea is to align certified network functions with preferred platforms.

For its part, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) will provide network support in the form of Xeon scalable processors and its FPGA accelerators. The chip maker recently rolled out a programmable acceleration card aimed at 5G deployments that increasingly include virtualized workloads.

 

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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