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OFA Overview

The OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) is an open source-based organization that develops, tests, licenses, supports and distributes RDMA/Advanced Networks software and the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution of the RDMA/Advanced Networks software. The Alliance’s mission is to develop and promote software that enables maximum application efficiency by delivering wire-speed messaging, ultra-low latencies and maximum bandwidth directly to applications with minimal CPU overhead.

Founded in June 2004 as the OpenIB Alliance, the Alliance was originally focused on developing a vendor-independent, Linux-based InfiniBand software stack. In 2005, the Alliance committed itself to supporting Windows, a move that would make the software stack truly cross-platform. In 2006, the organization again expanded its charter to include support for iWARP and in 2010 it added support for RoCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet), both for delivering high-performance RDMA and kernel bypass solutions over Ethernet. In 2014 the Alliance expanded again with the creation of the OpenFabrics Interfaces working group to investigate and incorporate support for other high performance networks.

Today, the vision of the OpenFabrics Alliance is to deliver a unified, cross-platform, transport-independent software stack for RDMA and kernel bypass. Transport independence means that users can utilize the same RDMA and kernel bypass API to run their applications agnostically over InfiniBand, iWARP, RoCE, or other fabrics. To that end, the OFA manages tools and development resources to code, refine and publish standards-based, open-source software with the scalability and performance necessary to support mission-critical applications. Alliance members and other contributors participate within Working Groups to ensure RDMA/Advanced Networks software and OFED functionality, ease of use and deployment, and interoperability with networking hardware and major operating systems. Membership in the Alliance is not required to participate in most of the Working Groups.

The Alliance develops a robust ecosystem by hosting an annual developers’ workshop where leaders in the industry can discuss advances in RDMA fabrics and challenges faced by IT managers deploying next generation data centers. The outcomes from these workshops drive advances in RDMA/Advanced Networks Software and, more than just occasionally, improvements in networking infrastructure products. The Alliance also provides support to those deploying and managing RDMA fabrics with our User Community portal, and place where IT administrators can share information, pose questions, and search for answers.

RDMA/Advanced Networks solutions are widely used with high performance computing and enterprise data center applications. On the horizon, the OFA is looking to bring the same maximized application efficiency to the cloud and hyper-converged markets. RDMA/Advanced Networks software is pushed to kernel.org and included and shipped with all major server operating systems from Red Hat, Novell, Oracle, and Microsoft. The RDMA/Advanced Networks software has also been ported by other operating systems including Solaris. The OFA continuously promotes industry awareness and acceptance of RDMA, kernel bypass, and low-latency fabric technologies.

The OpenFabrics Alliance welcomes all vendors and users of RDMA fabrics to join us. For more information visit the Membership pages.

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