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New IO Visor Project to Advance Linux Networking and Virtualization for Modern Data Centers

By Announcement

Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, Canonical, Cavium, Cisco, Huawei, Intel, PLUMgrid and SUSE among founding members to build an open programmable data plane for IO and networking applications

SEATTLE, LinuxCon/CloudOpen/ContainerCon, August 17, 2015 — The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the IO Visor Project. Founding members of IO Visor include Barefoot Networks, Broadcom, Canonical, Cavium, Cisco, Huawei, Intel, PLUMgrid and SUSE.

This Linux Foundation Collaborative Project will advance IO and networking technologies to address new requirements presented by cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). An industry transformation is underway in which virtualization is accelerating and driving the IT industry to seek faster service delivery and higher efficiency. As virtualization of compute, storage and networking continues to grow, fundamental changes in the way IO and networking subsystems are designed are required.

“IO Visor will work closely with the Linux kernel community to advance universal IO extensibility for Linux. This collaboration is critically important as virtualization is putting more demands on flexibility, performance and security,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director, The Linux Foundation. “Open source software and collaborative development are the ingredients for addressing massive change in any industry. IO Visor will provide the essential framework for this work on Linux virtualization and networking.”

“Advancing IO and network virtualization in the Linux stack can be an enabler of agility and elasticity, which are key requirements for cloud deployments and applications. IO Visor Project’s mission to bring universal IO extensibility to the Linux kernel will accelerate innovation of virtual network functions in SDN and NFV deployments,” said Rohit Mehra, Vice President of Network Infrastructure, IDC.  “The ability to create, load and unload in-kernel functions will enable developers in many upstream and downstream open source projects. What’s more, as an initiative under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, the IO Visor Project has the potential for credibility and momentum to benefit the diverse community of vendors and service providers, and ultimately enterprise IT.”

IO Visor is an open source project and community of developers that will enable a new way to innovate, develop and share IO and networking functions. It will provide a neutral forum in which participants can contribute and advance technology for an open programmable data plane for modern IO and networking applications and will provide development tools for the creation of high-speed, event-driven functions for distributed network environments from the data center to IoT and more.

This collaboration is expected to result in user benefits that include flexibility of programmable, extensible architecture with dynamic IO modules that can be loaded and unloaded in kernel at run time without recompilation and to deliver high performance and distributed, scale-out forwarding without compromise on functionality, among other features and benefits.

“I am encouraged to see the wide variety participants in the IO Visor ecosystem, as this suggests the project will benefit from diverse perspectives. The industry is wrestling with performance, security and scalability as it operationalizes new cloud, SDN and NFV technologies—the very areas IO Visor is aiming to address. I look forward to seeing how this initiative will collaborate with others, such as OpenDaylight and OPNFV, to accelerate cloud, SDN and NFV-driven transformation,” said Rosalyn Roseboro, Heavy Reading.

The IO Visor Project is supported initially with contributions from PLUMgrid. IO Visor will include a Board of Directors and Technical Steering Committee to govern the work and contributions from the community going forward. For more information about the IO Visor Project please visit:

IO Visor is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. Collaborative Projects are independently supported software projects that harness the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems. By spreading the collaborative DNA of the largest collaborative software development project in history, The Linux Foundation provides the essential collaborative and organizational framework so project hosts can focus on innovation and results. Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects span the enterprise, mobile, embedded and life sciences markets and are backed by many of the largest names in technology. For more information about Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects, please visit:

Member Quote

Barefoot Networks
“In the next few years, it will become commonplace to program the forwarding plane; programmability is the key to adding new features and greater visibility into networks,” said Martin Izzard, CEO at Barefoot Networks. “Barefoot is delighted to be a founding member of the IO Visor project and will contribute its experience and use of P4 as the event driven language.”

“We are supporting IO Visor project from Linux Foundation as it enables broader access to the rich suite of industry leading capabilities across Broadcom’s networking portfolio,” said Eli Karpilovski, Director of SDN and cloud ecosystem at Broadcom.

John Zannos, Canonical’s Vice President of Cloud Alliances, said: “As organisations continue to accelerate the rollout of new services, hypervisor technology has become a key enabler. IO Visor’s fully-distributed data plane architecture enables the hosting of planes of distributed network functions, which will scale out without impacting throughput or performance. PLUMgrid has taken a huge step in making IO Visor open and community-driven; as a leader in open hypervisor technologies and software-defined solutions, Canonical is pleased to support this initiative, which will help ensure scale and make the creation of VNF-based applications simpler.”

“I/O function virtualization enables mission critical scale and performance for cloud native, NFV and IoT applications,” said Lauren Cooney, Senior Director of Software Strategy for the Chief Technology Office, Cisco. “The work to bring I/O extensibility to the Linux Kernel, with a fully distributed data plane, is important to support the next generation of dynamic applications. Efforts to simplify and improve the overall developer experience and provide an open and flexible environment, such as the IO Visor Project, is necessary to help customers scale their businesses quickly and successfully. We’re excited to be a part of this community initiative to further drive new I/O and networking functions and continue our commitment to enable users by open source.”

“IO Visor’s ability to extend programmability with dynamic IO in the Linux Kernel allows virtualized network functions with SDN and NFV to be delivered in data centers more efficiently, without reconfiguring the network. This will increase the overall performance and stability while reducing the operating cost for our customers,” said Yunsong Lu, CTO of software laboratory at Huawei. “We believe there will be increasing scenarios where this technology will be deployed, allowing networking to become more flexible and agile. Huawei will continue our commitment to drive this initiative and help our customers to succeed.”

“The ability to modify a Linux kernel at runtime without rebooting the server or entire data center is critical to efficient operation of SDN and NFV technologies,” said Pere Monclus, founder and CTO at PLUMgrid. “As a company that actively supports a number of open source projects, we believe that open sourcing IO Visor through a community hosted with the Linux Foundation was in the best interests of not only our company, but of everyone dependent upon agile and highly performant cloud technologies at scale.”

“Customers are accelerating their migration to the cloud, which is putting pressure on software developers to keep up with their rapidly evolving business requirements,” said Michael Miller, vice president of global alliances and marketing at SUSE. “By extending the Linux kernel, IO Visor speeds up innovation of SDN and NFV technology and further solidifies Linux as the foundation of the software-defined data center.”

About The Linux Foundation

The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development. Founded in 2000, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system and collaborative software development by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting Collaborative Projects, Linux conferences, including LinuxCon and generating original research and content that advances the understanding of Linux and collaborative software development. More information can be found at