P4 is a language for programming the forwarding plane of packet-processing devices such as switches right down to the chip level, allowing network operators to customize how a device processes packets.
The goal of P4 is to enhance the flexibility of a network architecture and enable changes without having to wait for chip manufacturers or software developers to incorporate new features or protocol support.
P4 is an open-source project under the Apache 2.0 license. The code is maintained by the P4 consortium, which was started by Nick McKeown at Stanford University and Jennifer Rexford at Princeton University.
Our guest today to drill into the weeds about P4 is Professor McKeown. He’s been involved in several advances in networking technology over the last two decades. In particular, Nick has been a key driver of Software Defined Networking, and was a co-founder of Nicira Networks, which became VMware NSX. He is a full professor in Computer Science at Stanford University.
Let’s get started (A blog from Jennifer Rexford and Nick McKeown introducing P4)