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Linux Foundation Puts a new DENT in Edge Networking

New effort will bring the Linux SwitchDev technology forward to help enable a new generation of lightweight edge switching.

 By Sean Michael Kerner
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The Linux Foundation has been very active in 2019 across the edge computing landscape and is finishing the year with yet another new effort in the space.

On Dec. 13, the Linux Foundation announced the formation of the DENT project, which aims to develop a disaggregated enterprise network operating system for edge computing. The nascent project already has some big name backers including Amazon, Cumulus Networks, Delta Electronics Inc, Marvell, Mellanox and Wistron NeWeb (WNC)..

The basic idea behind DENT is to deliver a simplified Linux-based network operating system stack that is well suited for edge use cased including retail stores and remote campus locations. A core element of the DENT effort is switchdev, which is an open source in-kernel abstraction model, providing a standardized way to program switch ASICs and speed development time.

Amit Katz, vice president of Ethernet switches at Mellanox Technologies commented in a statement that switchdev was pioneered by Mellanox and can expose hardware that is used in the Mellanox Spectrum family of Ethernet Switches. Cumulus is also a support of switchdev and has provided integrated support as part of its recent release.

"DENT promotes network disaggregation, which benefits customers by eliminating vendor lock-in and allows hardware vendors to compete on a level playing field, where the very best switch ASICs and systems can win by delivering the highest ROI possible," Katz stated.

Though DENT is being positioned as an enabling technology for the edge, it's not currently part of the Linux Foundation's LF Edge organization, which is an umbrella effort under which multiple open source edge project are being operated.

"The Linux Foundation will establish a neutral home from the start for DENT - vital for community infrastructure, meetings, events and collaborative discussions," wrote Arpit Joshipura, GM of Networking at The Linux Foundation, in a statement "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."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

This article was originally published on Dec 16, 2019
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