Open Networking Foundation absorbs P4.org

networking
The Open Networking Foundation and P4.org announced that their merger is complete. (Pixabay)

The Open Networking Foundation announced today that it has completed its merger with P4.org, and will now host all of the P4-related activities and working groups going forward.

The groups first announced that P4.org was coming under the ONF fold last year. P4.org also joined the Linux Foundation's LF umbrella at the same time.

P4 (Programming Protocol-independent Packet Processors) is a domain-specific programming language for networking that is widely used with software-defined networking (SDN.)

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Since its inception in 2013, P4 has become the de facto standard for expressing how packets are processed by the data plane of a forwarding element, such as a hardware or software switch, network interface card (NIC,) router, or network appliance.

"It's important because P4 is a critical component of our next gen SDN architecture," said ONF's Timon Sloane, vice president of marketing and ecosystem, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We think there's a terrific synergy and alignment between the communities. We've taken our time with the merger just because we didn't want be disruptive to the people at work, but we're already seeing results by bringing the two communities closer together."

The ONF will bring all of the P4 work under its umbrella of operator-led open source projects while also aligning its P4 work and activities with the Linux Foundation. ONF's operator membership is comprised of AT&T, China Telecom, China Unicom, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT and Turk Telekom.

It will be business as usual for all of the P4 projects, such as P4 Runtime, now that they are part of ONF. ONF is using P4 in its Stratum and Converged Multi-Access and Core (COMCAC) projects.

"We're starting to work on a next generation Open Network Operating System (ONOS) controller as well, and all of this nicely dovetails with the P4 work," Sloane said.

The P4 language was originally created by a group of engineers and researchers from Google, Intel, Microsoft Research, Barefoot, Princeton and Stanford. Barefoot Networks uses P4 in its Tofino Ethernet switch.

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