Dec 13th, 2018 — A recent presentation by three6five pre-sales consulting engineer, Allan Houston, at the KZNNOG-5 held on 8 November, highlighted the real-world benefits to customers of using products featuring DPDK technology.
The Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) is a fully open-source project. It’s a multi-vendor and multi-architecture project, and it aims at achieving high I/O performance and reaching high packet processing rates, which are some of the most critical features in the networking arena. Created by Intel in 2010, DPDK moved to the Linux Foundation in April 2017, which positioned it as one of the most dominant and most important open-source Linux projects available. DPDK was created for the telecom/datacom infrastructure, but today, it is used almost everywhere, including the cloud, data centers, appliances, containers and more.
“DPDK is aimed at improving overall network performance, delivering enhanced encryption for improved security and optimising lower latency applications that require lightning-fast response time,” says Houston. “On a practical level, we are seeing it increasingly often in real-life implementations using disruptor products such as Sandvine’s Deep Packet Inspection and pure play SD-WAN offerings from 128- Technology and VMWare’s VeloCloud.”
Network performance, throughput, and latency are increasingly important for a whole range of applications and implementations such as 5G, Cloud, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), wireless core and access, wireline infrastructure, routers, load balancers, firewalls, video streaming, VoIP, SD-WAN, vCPE and more. As the world relies more and more on communicating via fast and stable networks, the enablement of very fast packet processing is essential. DPDK makes it possible for organisations to move performance-sensitive applications – like the backbone for mobile networks and voice – to the Cloud and help create higher performing edge devices. “As you expect, DPDK is baked directly into compute instances on major cloud providers like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform, with many compliant network software appliances available directly from their marketplaces,” adds Houston.
“The increasing uptake of SD-WAN has been a game-changer, and we’re seeing products that have adopted DPDK driving faster and more efficient development of features in this space,” says Houston. “For example, when developing traditional silicon-based hardware devices, the process can take years of design, testing and fabrication before it is commercially available. Once the hardware is fabricated and shipped, there is little scope for changing its functionality. With technology enablers such as DPDK, which has over 600 developers working on over 500,000 new lines of code committed this year alone, new software-based features can be ready to use in a few months.”
One of the major benefits to customers using products containing DPDK technology, is that it is driving costs down. “For example, a customer wanting to deploy something like Deep Packet Inspection at peering points in three cities using a hardware appliance would previously have to have a budget in the millions of Rands,” says Houston. “We’ve seen examples where, using subscription-based software, running the same carrier-grade solution on hypervisors, we’ve been able to reduce those costs to thousands. This is only made possible by the technology and speed improvements offered by DPDK.”