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eBPF Foundation & Linux reveal comprehensive study on eBPF's impact
Thu, 1st Feb 2024

The eBPF Foundation and Linux Foundation Research have jointly published a comprehensive study on 'The State of eBPF'. The report examines the evolution of eBPF (Extended Berkeley Packet Filter), a technology that simplifies kernel development and accelerates the delivery of kernel-level applications. It also provides insights into the current applications of eBPF, its challenges, and likely future directions.

eBPF is a means of running custom programmes in operating systems like Linux or Windows. It can boost the execution speed of critical computational tasks by up to ten times, improving efficiency in areas like observability, networking, and security. Observability allows engineers to quickly identify and fix system errors, while networking relates to the speed at which emails and computation occur. The security function helps protect our digital lives and infrastructure from cyber threats.

The 'State of eBPF' report is the product of qualitative research and explores the revolutionary impact of eBPF on software application development. It not only covers the evolution and current hinterland of eBPF but also provides valuable suggestions for optimising the benefits of the technology and joined-up thinking about its future. The comprehensive study involved interviewing over a dozen key eBPF maintainers and contributors and examining freely accessible repositories of eBPF-related projects.

Hilary Carter, SVP of Research at the Linux Foundation, notes that the widespread adoption of eBPF and related projects has become extensive, ranging from small deployments to large-scale cloud operations covering billions of devices. Highlighting its default inclusion in many operating systems, Carter views the report as a valuable resource. It aims to assist the community in gaining a deeper understanding of the potential of eBPF and provides insights into maximising its capabilities in future applications.

Hilary Carter comments, "The adoption of eBPF, along with related projects, has reached a point where it is being used at all scales, from small deployments to large-scale cloud operations across billions of devices. It is found by default in many operating systems. This report is an invaluable resource to help the community better comprehend the potential of eBPF and how to extract more from it in the future."

eBPF can reduce the complexity of kernel evolution, ensuring that infrastructure features meet application requirements in any privileged execution context, like a kernel. This enables it to tackle industry challenges more effectively than existing software by synchronising user space and kernel space development.

The eBPF Foundation was founded to bring together a cross-platform community of eBPF-related projects from across the open-source ecosystem in an independent forum. The Foundation is supported by a dozen members who work collaboratively on a common technical vision, vocabulary, security best practices, and general roadmap to be applied within separate workstreams, operating system kernels, and enterprise communities.