Facebook Unveils Homegrown Networking Hardware

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2015-02-12 Print this article Print
Facebook switch

Facebook isn't keeping the 6-pack to itself. It's currently in production testing—along with the Wedge and FBoss—and the plan to offer the design to the Open Compute Project so that other organizations can build upon it for their own purposes.

"With '6-pack,' we have created an architecture that enables us to build any size switch using a simple set of common building blocks," Bachar wrote. "And because the design is so open and so modular—and so agnostic when it comes to switching technology and software—we hope this is a platform that the entire industry can build on."

That creates another challenge for the likes of Cisco and Juniper, which have made billions of dollars selling their proprietary switches and which already are rapidly expanding their portfolios to address the burgeoning software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) trends. Cisco is pushing back with its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Nexus 9000 switches, and according to CEO John Chambers, the growth has been strong. During a conference call Feb. 11 regarding the company's latest quarterly numbers, Chambers noted that Cisco now has 1,700 ACI and Nexus 9000 customers and that number of Nexus 9000 installed ports have passed 1 million in less than a year.

The CEO dismissed the threat of low-cost commodity systems to Cisco's networking business, saying that most organizations are looking for a partner that can offer an architectural story that includes everything from security to collaboration.

"We are seeing no unusual competition in the market, no unusual competition with white label or white box, nor will we in the future," Chambers said.

Some vendors, including Dell and Juniper, are offering open switches that can run third-party software from such companies as—in Dell's case—Cumulus Networks, Big Switch Networks and Midokura. It's a trend that Gartner analysts are calling "brite-box switching."


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