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Making a DENT in the edge

Linux Foundation open ecosystem enables low cost, standardized network solutions for campus and remote offices.

The Linux Foundation has launched DENT, a project to enable the creation of Network OS for Disaggregated Network Switches in campus and remote enterprise locations. Under the Linux Foundation, DENT hopes to unify and grow the community of Silicon Vendors, Original Design Manufacturers (ODM), System Integrators (SI), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and end users to create an ecosystem of contributors around a full-featured network operating system. The initial use case will focus on the retail industry with premier members including Amazon, Cumulus Networks, Delta Electronics Inc, Marvell, Mellanox, Wistron NeWeb (WNC).


Networking solutions today are customized for each market and each use case, whether telecom, cloud or enterprise data center markets. They use proprietary silicon (ASIC) for packet processing and closed operating systems to enable workloads and applications on a network switch. Disaggregation is the new way for Open Networking and has been well accepted in data centers and telecom infrastructures. However, in enterprise networking-- especially with distributed locations-- nothing currently exists for Enterprise Edge properties that fall outside the traditional public cloud as they have very specific requirements to take advantage of disaggregation and the networking stack.

Remote campus locations and retail stores require a simple networking OS stack that is low cost and Linux-based. DENT is an Open Source project that will enable the community to build this solution without complicated abstractions. It uses the Linux Kernel, Switchdev and other Linux based projects to allow developers to treat networking ASICs and silicon like any other hardware. It simplifies abstractions, APIs, drivers and overheads that currently exist in these switches and on other open software.

With new technologies like 5G, Edge, IOT, AI, the next generation of remote buildings, retail stores and enterprises will have a lot of innovative workloads and services close to the applications and users. Having a simple disaggregated Linux/SwitchDev-based switch to power the remote offices will enable an ecosystem of apps that simplifies and standardizes integration across the ecosystem.

“The Linux Foundation will establish a neutral home from the start for DENT - vital for community infrastructure, meetings, events and collaborative discussions,” said Arpit Joshipura, GM of Networking at The Linux Foundation. ”Our goal is to create an open source, open participation technical community to benefit the ecosystem of solution providers and users focused on network operating system, control plane and management plane use cases across a variety of industry solutions.”

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