Facebook is making an effort to invent a whole new kind of computer network. As part of this effort, the social networking giant is working on developing a second, faster networking switch, according to the company’s head of engineering, Jay Parikh.
Challenging market leader Cisco
Speaking at the Structure Conference in San Francisco, Parikh told attendees that the new device will be a 100-gigabit switch with a speed much higher than in the past. The company released a 40-gigabit switch in March. This can be seen as Facebook’s second attack on the market leader Cisco as the social networker released the first switch last spring.
Facebook’s 100G switch had been in the rumor mill for quite some time now, therefore, it should not come as a surprise to Cisco, but it definitely is not good news for the networking giant. Cisco is the largest network switch maker in the world, but it is struggling with what it refers to as ‘white box’ switches, says a report from Business Insider.
Facebook is a prime example of such switches. These switches move fancy features from hardware and into software, and not only do they perform well, they also cost less. Adding to Cisco’s woes, the device that Facebook is inventing is not meant solely for internal use. It is working to make these switches commercially available products, the report said.
Facebook aims faster and more open networks
Facebook is even lending a helping hand to start-ups like Cumulus and Big Switch – both competitors to Cisco – by making its switch compatible with their commercial software. Facebook is also freely sharing its own software (FBOSS) for running the switch. With all this, Facebook aims to make networks faster and more open.
In the cloud computing world this is a big deal, as data centers and networks are evloving rapidly. Just like all its hardware inventions, Facebook is donating the designs for its switch to the Open Compute Project (OCP) as well.
A couple of years ago, Facebook launched an open source hardware consortium or OCP, which has now become a major force in the hardware industry. This group of hardware customers and hardware manufacturers is doing the same thing for the data center as Linux did for software.