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Facebook, Cumulus take on Cisco with 128 ports of open networking iron

128 ports of 100 Gbps switching grunt in a single 'Backpack'

By Richard Chirgwin

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Facebook has pulled apart a bunch of its Wedge 100 Gbps switches and reassembled them as a hefty 128-port 100 Gbps open network switch dubbed "Backpack."

The Backpack switch was announced at this week's Disaggregate Networking event.

It runs Facebook's FBOSS networking and OpenBMC baseboard management implementations, and The Social Network says the Backpack chassis is “equivalent to a set of 12 Wedge 100 switches connected together”.

Backpack's internal topology is simple: four fabric cards meshed to the line cards.

Cumulus Networks moved in parallel, announcing that Backpack running Cumulus Linux OS is available for order.

Cumulus CEO Josh Leslie told Vulture South the combination of Facebook's open hardware with its open network operating system “is capable of taking huge market share from the incumbents.”

Being able to sell the solution means Cumulus is “moving beyond the realm of demonstrating what's possible, and delivering disaggregated and open hardware and software that's fully-featured and mature,” he said.

That number of 100 Gbps ports is “an insane amount of throughput, built beautifully into a really smart package”, and “our software has a complete L2/L3 protocol suite, tested at scale,” in a package he's hoping can outdo “anything in the market, including solutions from legacy vendors.”

Of course, plenty of companies have claimed to outdo Cisco in the past, and ended up either beaten or bought.

However, The Register will note, a Facebook/Cumulus product isn't just the disaggregation of hardware and operating system; it's also a market disaggregation. Facebook will be hard to acquire, and on its own is big enough to be a viable market.

Cumulus' offering is in partnership with hardware manufacturer Celestica.

The company also demonstrated its operating system running on Facebook's Wedge 100 Gbps switch at Disaggregate Networking. ®

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