Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Alibaba, AT&T, Baidu, Tencent adopt Barefoot forwarding plane

Barefoot Networks, a provider of advanced, high speed switching technology, announced significant market momentum driven by growing demand for its programmable forwarding plane technology.

Barefoot's 6.5 Tbit/s Tofino switch, which is claimed to be the fastest and P4-programmable switch chip, has been sampling to customers since the fourth quarter of 2016. The company noted that its technology is being adopted by large enterprises and telecommunications providers to increase network performance and efficiency through leveraging programmable forwarding plane technology.

Barefoot stated that it has recently worked with AT&T and SnapRoute to deliver what it believes is the first real-time path and latency visualisation. Utilising Tofino and In-band Network Telemetry (INT), AT&T was able to gain deep insight into the network down to packet-level for the first time to help to address bottlenecks caused by path or latency variation.

Barefoot noted it took 6 weeks to develop the visualisation capability before it was deployed into AT&T's production environment carrying live customer traffic over a Washington DC to San Francisco link.

In addition, major Internet companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have used Tofino and P4 to address challenges in their networks. Barefoot noted that the demands of mega-scale data centres are growing to support new applications and services, while legacy fixed-function switching technology is not sufficiently flexible and so they are using Barefoot to develop custom forwarding planes. The companies are therefore able to adopt load balancing, DDoS protection and INT features without affecting performance.

Barefoot has also expanded its ecosystem via partnerships with equipment manufacturers based in Asia. To date, the company has announced go-to-market partnerships with Edgecore Networks, WNC, H3C, Ruijie and ZTE. These partnerships are designed to enable Barefoot to meet growing demand for programmable networking across a range of network environments.



  • Barefoot Networks, based in Palo Alto, California, exited stealth and unveiled its user-programmable Tofino switch chip in June last year. Founded in 2013, Barefoot is backed by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. The company has raised approximately $155 million in five funding rounds, most recently raising $23 million in November 2016 in a round led by Alibaba and Tencent.

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