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Intel buys Barefoot Networks: This is the best news for next generation programmable networks we could hope for!

On June 10th, 2019, Intel announced that it was purchasing Barefoot Networks for an undisclosed amount. As NoviFlow has been one of the networking industry’s first adopters of the Tofino chip, and a key ecosystem partner of Barefoot’s, we have received many requests from customers, friends and industry analysts for our take on this news. In a nutshell, we couldn’t be happier, both for the networking industry as a whole, and NoviFlow in particular.

Let me explain why.

Intel has for over half a century been a fundamental force in the advancement of silicon technology. It has a world of experience in bootstrapping whole new industries! Intel knows how to put together all the critical elements to drive a new technology to market by working with partners to build whole value-chains, retail channels and solution ecosystems.

What distinguishes Intel’s Barefoot acquisition is the PISA match-action silicon architecture. Intel is now bringing a new programmable switch technology to compete with the fixed-pipeline incumbents. With this purchase, the strongest match-action silicon in the market – Tofino, is now backed by the strongest silicon provider in the market – Intel!

This is a perfect fit with NoviFlow’s vision of the next-generation network. As an early pioneer of programmable match-action pipeline solutions, NoviFlow’s NoviWare and Domain-Specific Controller applications are ideally suited to leverage the Tofino chip and PISA match-action pipeline. NoviFlow has already put many man-years of work into porting our commercial Network Operating System to the Tofino architecture, enabling our customers to leverage the power of Tofino to optimize switching platforms and network applications. NoviFlow also developed an OpenFlow layer on top of P4, so that existing SDN applications could leverage Tofino white-box switches without changing a line of code. In early 2019 we also announced native P4-Runtime support for NoviWare, giving our customers a software upgrade path to native PISA match-action architecture. We now deliver NoviWare for Tofino on a variety of third-party white box hardware including those from Edgecore, Foxconn and Stordis.

NoviFlow’s NoviWare NOS for Tofino is ideally positioned to be a key player in this new Intel programmable match-action forwarding plane ecosystem!

Technology aside, it doesn’t hurt that Intel also has the resources and global influence to put together a broad coalition of partners that add value, offer an impressive set of use cases, and provide economically advantageous solutions leveraging the power of programmable forwarding planes.

Bringing it all together, NoviFlow is indeed very happy to see a true giant of the industry like Intel join the programmable network fabric band-wagon. CSPs like AT&T, Bell, China Mobile, NTT, Telstra and Verizon are already benefiting from the deployment of SDN and programmable match-action networking. We now hope to see Intel lead the broad deployment of these technologies at the network and cloud edge, ushering in a new generation of intelligent networks that work ever more closely in concert with the applications and business solutions that are the future of networking.