A collaboration between the University of South Carolina, the Great Plains Network (GPN), and EPOC (a joint effort between Indiana University and ESnet) recently sponsored a two-day workshop on programmable data plane switches, with specific emphasis on Programming Protocol-Independent Packet Processors (P4).
Data plane programmability has attracted significant attention from the research community and industry due to its ability to enable programmers to run customized packet processing functions in the data plane, but so far there has been limited training available on P4.
P4 is a domain-specific language for network devices, specifying how data plane devices (switches, NICs, routers, filters, etc.) process packets. Using P4, application developers and network engineers can implement specific behavior in the network, enabling changes to be made in minutes instead of years.
“With FABRIC coming online and GPN as a host of one of the nodes, this P4 Workshop was a very welcome educational opportunity for our community” said James Deaton, the executive director of the Great Plains Network, one of the sponsors for the workshop.
More than 200 people attended the February event, which was presented via the University of South Carolina’s cybertraining system and offered free of charge. ESnet’s Jason Zurawski was among the organizers. Sessions covered the fundamentals of P4 programmable switches, FABRIC’s national cyberinfrastructure, use of P4 switches on campus networks. There were also hands-on sessions covering P4 building blocks, parser implementation in the data plane, populating match-action tables at runtime, and others.
David comes to us from Concord, CA, where he worked the last 10 years at McAfee as a Project Manager in both the Consumer and IT teams. During his tenure with McAfee, he led a variety of projects, from small 2 month projects to multi-year projects. His last several years have been focused mostly on IT infrastructure, and working with the Server, Storage, Network, and Data Center teams.
He is a father to five daughters, three of them still living at home with David and his wife. He loves watching football, and during the NFL season, you will find him cheering wildly for his 49ers!
What brought you to ESnet?
After spending 10 years with McAfee I decided that I needed a change of scenery. While looking around for jobs, I found the position at ESnet and started reading about what goes on at Berkeley Lab and was immediately impressed. Being able to work with folks who are working on cutting-edge technology was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
I’ve been fascinated by technology and computers since I was a kid. I always liked being around the newest technology. After reading all of the cutting-edge work going on at ESnet, especially their leadership in the quantum networking space, it seemed like a great fit.
What is the most exciting thing going on in your field right now?
I’m not sure the field of Project Management has exciting changes like some of the tech world. However, I can say some of the best parts about working in Project Management is the ability to constantly be creating something new with a group of individuals, and having everyone share their knowledge to build something great. Having the opportunity to work with people from all over the world on any number of projects is always exciting and rewarding.
What book would you recommend?
This is a tough question as I love to read, and picking one book is tough. But I will go with Ender’s Game, as that was probably one of the earliest books I read that really hooked me and got me interested in reading more.