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CNCF SIG Network Set to Push Cloud Native Networking Forward

Saturday Nov 23rd 2019 by Sean Michael Kerner

At KubeCon 2019, new Special Interest Group for cloud native network begins to take shape.

SAN DIEGO. The inaugural public meeting the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Networking Special Interest Group (SIG) was held in a session at the KubeCon event on Nov. 19, ushering in a new era for networking at the highly influential open source group.

The CNCF is home to many different projects, including the Kubernetes container orchestration system. Kubernetes itself has its' own set of SIGs, which is the core organizing unit for the project, among those SIGs is one for networking. The CNCF however is a bigger organization that just Kubernetes and includes over 40 projects. CNCF SIGs cut across all projects, with cross project concerns in different topic areas.

Lee Calcote, Founder at Layer5 and one of the leaders of CNCF SIG Network explained during the session that there are already a few network specific projects within the CNCF, including CNI (Container Network Interface), CoreDNS, Envoy, gRPC, Linkerd, NATS and the Network Service Mesh project.

"Part of what we're hoping to do is with SIGs in general is to help more impact fully scale the CNCF Technical Oversight Committee (TOC)," Calcote said.

Calcote noted that SIG Network's mission is to enable widespread and successful development, deployment and operation of resilient and intelligent network systems in cloud native environments.

One of the things that SIG Network will be doing, is it will also help in bringing in new networking projects into the CNCF, by acting as subject matter experts on networking and providing guidance where needed to the CNCF's ToC.

Calcote has also helped to write a charterfor SIG Network that helps to define what the new group aims to do.

"We strive to understand the fundamental characteristics of different networking approaches with respect to availability, scalability, performance, consistency, observability, security, ease-of-use, cost, performance and operational complexity; and relate these to their suitability to various cloud native use cases," the charter states. "Networks, network services and methodologies suitable for and commonly used in modern cloud-native environments."

Matt Klein, software engineer at Lyft and the creator of the CNCF's Envoy project commented that beyond CNCF project that are specifically about networking, there are also lots of cross-cutting concerns that could span multiple project such as support for service mesh or IPv6 network address space support.

Service Mesh Interface (SMI)

At the last KubeCon event, held in Barcelona, Spain, one of the biggest announcement was the new Service Mesh Interface (SMI) specification. Calcote explained that SMI is about providing a consistent set of API's behind which you might interface with different service meshes, such as Istio.

SMI is not the only service mesh abstraction. The Hamlet service mesh abstraction was also recently announced. Calcote said that hamlet is more for purposes of specifying a common way of federating heterogeneous service meshes

"SIG Network is about providing a forum for discussion and potentially a forum for those specifications to come through and potentially come into the CNCF," Calcote said.

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

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