Heck yeah! Facebook’s Open Compute Project is making an open source switch

I’m hopeful of this white box approach to networking but cautiously optimistic. It would be great to put opensource software of openswitch like software on white box devices. While not SDN or Openflow directly it does give a great deal more capability to SDN type implementations. As the interface into the hardware layer is open and standard.

My reservation is the ability to innovate at the hardware layer at the same pace you can now with proprietary operating systems. Who’s going to invest in make a white box fabric that will compete with Cisco, Juniper and Arista? Top of the rack is a start but ultimately we’d like to see this in the core as well. I have a difficult time seeing open compete at the entire data center fabric level. I’m hopeful however that it will.


The Open Compute Project, which Facebook launched a little more than two years ago, has decided that utterly disrupting the server and storage market isn’t enough. On Wednesday, it said it would solicit input on an open source top-of-rack switch.

The project, in a presentation by Frank Frankovsy at Interop, said it was taking a slightly different tack with its design, deciding to get input from others before actually making and releasing the hardware to the community. However, just because the hardware isn’t designed yet, Facebook isn’t going to twiddle its thumbs for a traditional multi-year design cycle. Frankovsky told me in an interview that he expects the hardware to b out in 9 to 12 months.

“We have built these islands of openness in the data center but the last element, and the one that was connecting the compute and storage, was the network,” said Frankovsky. “And there is…

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Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

3 thoughts on “Heck yeah! Facebook’s Open Compute Project is making an open source switch

  1. I was expecting, hoping ?, these kind of things to happen.

    I’ve got a feeling the core-network is the where the least amount of customization is needed. It’s the WAN and the top-of-rack where it start, they would just talk the usual protocols to talk to the core.

    I believe most software that is needed already exists in the form of open source code. Even implementations of the important routing protocols. So it can act as a normal router too, not just a switch.

    Juniper always used a FreeBSD-based OS with their own software, Pica8 products are Linux based with mostly open source software I believe.

    You can even install software packages like Puppet directly on your Juniper devices:

    Intel has already created a reference design to start competing with players like Broadcom:


    With silicon photonics on the way and Intel probably felt they needed to be in the networking space themselves so they started on the reference designs ? Working closely with Facebook/OpenCompute this next step is a pretty obvious step.

    So now that the hardware is a commodity and the software is a commodity (because of open source).

    Are we now finally all gonna innovate (with software and maybe protocols) ? 😉

    My worry is will Intel end up “owning” the whole stack ?

    1. Glade to see you are no longer a bot 🙂

      Good point with Intel or some other manufacturing now owning this space. While it would be a good area for growth it may end with only one major vendor from a subset of the hardware perspective.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if Intel has the best chip fabs. Just have a look at this list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_semiconductor_fabrication_plants

        A quick gaze at that shows us Intel has the best density, the smallest “process” (in nm) on large wavers. And judging by the number of fabs, I think they don’t just have a few, so they have a pretty big volume too (thus they also have economy of scale on their side).

        So it is only natural ?

        On the issue of the bot, I did buy 2 new domains and did look into what blog-software I might want to use, but haven’t tried it out yet. If I don’t like it, I might still end up with some everyday software like WordPress or Drupal though.

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