Equinix is announcing today that it’s selected the Facebook Wedge switch as the foundation for this exchange, with Mesosphere‘s Datacenter Operating System (DCOS) to be used for management and for container orchestration.
It’s the first commercial, non-captive use of Wedge, says Ihab Tarazi, Equinix’s CTO.
“We want to have something deployed, tested, all of it — this year,” Tarazi says. For now, though, the container exchange is still in the idea phase. Equinix will work with Facebook and Mesosphere to build a test bed, which he hopes can get accomplished in the first half of the year.
That schedule could sync up well with those of Equinix’s customers, Tarazi says. “They’re all moving toward microservices environments, and they’re all trying to solve hybrid cloud.”
The company is filling out a whole ecosystem of partners to help, more of which will be announced later in the year, he says.
Best known as a provider of co-location and connectivity — a service provider that connects other service providers, while also hosting enterprise networks — Equinix wants to do this project to prepare itself for a clientele that will be using containers and hybrid clouds, according to Tarazi.
Specifically, he sees Equinix playing a role in helping enterprises move containers between in-house networks and the cloud. The container exchange would help enterprises use the same containers in clouds and in their own networks, while also giving them ways to manage the performance of applications and apply policy rules to them.
Open Compute hardware could assist in the Internet of Things (IoT) as well, Tarazi says, although Equinix’s plans there are vague so far. The company is eager to hear ideas, which is why it’s announcing the project now, as the Open Compute Summit opens and the IoT hype from Mobile World Congress remains fresh.
Of course, there will also be the occasional need for connecting an enterprise’s container environment to some other data center or cloud through MPLS — meaning, through traditional networks, which will remain Equinix’s bread-and-butter technologies for a while.
The container exchange germinated around Christmastime during discussions between Equinix and Facebook, which happens to be an Equinix customer.
“We got to see what they’re doing, and it became clear this thing is viable and that a few people need to team up to solve the software and open source issues,” Tarazi says.
Equinix’s use of Wedge is interesting, because Tarazi had previously commented that commercial switches consistently beat generic hardware. That point is still valid, he says. And yet, Equinix joined OCP in January.
That’s because OCP has roots in hyperscale data center deployments — Facebook’s, specifically — and Tarazi thinks that point of view will help as Equinix’s customers increasingly use hybrid clouds. “This hybrid cloud environment is something the industry still has not solved.”
Tarazi also sounds honestly intrigued by the thought of tapping an open source community, and Facebook’s expertise with containers makes Wedge a fit for the container exchange. On the pragmatic side, he sees Wedge, like containers, representing a trend that’s going to start showing up in the co-location cages at Equinix sites.
“For any customer using OCP hardware in their cages, we want to be able to support them,” he says. “Equinix becomes the place where different people who use different hardware components can come in. The future doesn’t look like a single switch.”
Photo: Lifted from Equinix’s blog.