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OFA Expands Mission to Boost Development of Advanced Network and Fabric Technologies

Today the OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) unveiled an expanded mission to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced fabric technologies. This is a significant expansion of its original mission from 2004, which was to facilitate the rapid adoption of an emerging network technology, known as the InfiniBand Architecture. The new mission expands its scope to include software for the entirety of the advanced networks landscape, including the InfiniBand Architecture.

The new mission is achieved by using the OFA’s proven methods and track record as a prototype for success, but adds several important new elements. The OFA plans to apply the same methods that successfully brought the Verbs API to prominence in the open source community to drive development of an expanded range of network software technologies. In addition, the OFA is embarking on a program designed to accelerate network technology development by exploiting synergies among technical organizations working in adjacent fields. The organization’s fundamental goals remain the same – to develop and support open source software to accelerate the development of network technologies, but its scope is broader than ever before.

Advanced Networks Software – An Expanded View of Fabrics

The OFA’s new mission now encompasses what it has aptly named Advanced Networks Software – ANS. ANS does not refer to a specific software stack, but rather refers to a suite of high performance APIs and associated software needed to power modern networks. Various elements of ANS, and many of its derivatives, are freely available through open source repositories. It is in use today in high performance computing applications, enterprise data centers, storage applications, the cloud, virtualized environments, and parallel computing. All of which share a common requirement for high performance, highly efficient networks. Networking software stacks based on ANS run on various network technologies including: legacy Ethernet, iWARP, RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), InfiniBand, OmniPath™, the ARIES network, and other emerging fabrics. Some components of ANS are specific to certain networks, while other, newer components are designed to be independent of any particular underlying network architecture. This makes it possible to re-target an application to a new or different network.

The OFA is actively developing and supporting the following fabric technologies:

  • Kernel modules to support kernel level applications:
    • Storage Technologies (Lustre™, SRP, NVMoF, etc)
    • Legacy Communication (Sockets)
  • User mode APIs based on:
    • Verbs supporting InfiniBand-style networks
    • OpenFabrics Interfaces (OFI) providing a higher level semantic that is network independent
    • Emerging and future networks:
    • Remote Persistent Memory

OFA Industry Alliance Program – Enabling Collaboration

Central to the new mission is the idea of collaboration. To drive industry wide collaboration, the OFA has launched a new Industry Alliance Program. The objective is to facilitate greater synergy among technical organizations working in adjacent areas to advance fabric technologies. The new program provides a platform to incubate and evolve vendor independent open source software for fabrics and drives technical deliverables and promotion to the benefit of the industry as a whole.

In April of 2018, the first such alliance was announced with the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to collaborate on activities that advance remote access to persistent memory and the adoption of remote persistent memory as a mainstream technology. Remote access over a fabric is vital because modern applications span multiple systems; this collaboration will bring the benefit of persistent memory to these applications.

The Annual OpenFabrics Workshop Renews Emphasis on Collaboration within OpenFabrics Community

OFA Workshop 2019 – Save the Date

The 15th Annual OFA Workshop, is returning to Austin, Texas – March 19-21, 2019 at the University of Texas at Austin. The annual OFA Workshop is a premier means of fostering collaboration among those who develop fabrics, deploy fabrics, and create applications that rely on fabrics. It is the only event of its kind where fabric developers and users can discuss emerging fabric technologies, collaborate on future industry requirements, and address problems that exist today.

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