Feeds

Facebook reveals open network gear to drive WEDGE between itself and Cisco

New switch spells doom, gloom and, yes, more gloom for trad networking vendors

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Facebook's director of technical operations, Najam Ahmad, says his company is only "one per cent" done with changing data center hardware, but we reckon that with the reveal of its new open networking equipment projects, Cisco and other incumbents are hoping it will slow down.

The top-of-rack switch, named Wedge, and Linux-based operating system, named FBOSS, were announced at GigaOm Structure in San Francisco on Wednesday. The technologies are a continuation of Facebook's attempt to make itself independent of the development cycles (and pricing) of traditional IT vendors.

"What we've done is taken tech on the server side and put it in the switch," explained Ahmad. "We're changing all the control and management infrastructure out to a more standard open source-based model."

With these two technologies, Facebook is moving further away from traditional networking suppliers as the company tries to carve out its own type of open infrastructure with the help of Asian equipment makers.

It's not alone: Google and Amazon have done the same thing after being frustrated by the slow pace at which incumbent tech companies move. By comparison, the Asian contractor manufacturers that Facebook has been using for its open hardware have moved disarmingly quickly, Ahmad told us.

FBNetworkdiagram

Facebook's Wedge switch: Cheap, but the blue paint will cost you.

"Wedge and FBOSS depart from current networking design paradigms to leverage our experience in operating hundreds of thousands of servers in our data centers," the company explained in a blog post. "In other words, our goal with these projects was to make our network look, feel, and operate more like the OCP servers we've already deployed, both in terms of hardware and software."

Wedge slots a Open Compute Project-designed Group Hug server board in the switch so that Facebook can run its Linux-based networking operating system on a server that sits next to the traditional Trident networking silicon. This design has some similarities to that pioneered by Pluribus Networks, a high-end startup that presses on-switch x86 chips to work on adding greater progammability to the network.

"By using a real server module in the switch, we're able to bring switches into our distributed fleet management systems and provision them with our standard Linux-based operating environment," Facebook explains in its blog post. "This enables us to deploy, monitor, and control these systems alongside our servers and storage — which in turn allows our engineers to focus more on bringing new capabilities to our network and less on managing the existing systems."

This ties into FBOSS, which lets Facebook run its own networking operating system and existing monitoring systems on the networking equipment, as well.

"It's just knowing everything is configured the way you think it is configured," Ahmad says. "It's really important from a security perspective. In this model it's easier to control."

The Wedge and FBOSS systems are "currently being tested in our network," Facebook said in its blog post. Soon it will propose the Wedge and FBOSS designs to the wider Open Compute Project community and, if they are adopted, then Facebook's low-cost, cut-down view of networking equipment will spread beyond the social network.

But it's not all about saving money: Facebook splashed out "a few cents" per switch to give it the distinctive blue paint job, Ahmad admitted. Who says branding is dead? ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.