Open Network Featured Article

Barefoot Networks Adds Partners to Open Networking

January 18, 2017

Barefoot Networks, so far, has had an excellent run of things. The company only launched in June 2016, but already it's raised over $150 million to its credit. Now, with all that funding behind it, the company is putting a new focus on drawing together partners to drive its open networking plans forward, setting up arrangements with Edgecore Networks (News - Alert) and WNC.

The new partnerships, reports note, will be focused on bringing systems built around the Barefoot Networks Tofino chip to market. This chip will likely prove a boon to open networking efforts as it represents the fastest 6.5 Tb/s Ethernet switch chip around. Throw in the P4 programmable pipeline, and suddenly, the closed forwarding plane is no longer an issue in preventing full programmability of a network. With such a chip in place, those who both build and run networks can more readily determine how packet processing devices behave on the network.

The chip itself, meanwhile, has been in users' hands since the last quarter of 2016, and already reports note it's been delivering quite a bit of value. With the new partnerships in play, meanwhile, there's room for still more development.  Edgecore is planning a pair of switches, one a 32x100GbE switch and the other a 65x100GbE for the first quarter of 2017, while WNC is readying two systems for the first half of next year. In the first quarter, WNC will have a 1 RU 48x25GE+6x100GE system ready, while in the second quarter, it will bring out a 2 RU 65x100GE system.

Barefoot Networks' co-founder and CEO Martin Izzard commented “For the past 20 years, network switches and routers have been built from 'fixed function' silicon, which means we've had to live with the features picked by chip designers. Chip designers don't build networks. So instead, Barefoot is putting its customers in charge. From now on, the features and protocols supported by switches, routers, load-balancers and firewalls will be decided in software, written by the equipment vendor or network owner."

When a single new point can remove a major limitation in open networking that some likely thought baked into systems everywhere even just two years ago, that should make it a very attractive property. Network developers the world over will likely have a marked interest in getting hands on the new Barefoot products, and with several partners stepping in to help provide value here, that should only cement the value proposition further.

It's hard to believe, in a way, that so much could be done from just one chip, but the idea that one chip could add that kind of value is exciting as well.  The future looks bright for Barefoot Networks, and for its new partners as well.

Edited by Maurice Nagle