Open/R allows new applications to be built on top of the platform to extend management to different parts of the network. It also provides northbound interfaces for integration with external controllers. Open/R uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow communications between remote agents and a centralized controller.
The platform is hardware and system independent, which means it can run on multiple hardware platforms. It currently runs on Arista switching platforms where it integrates with the open source EOS software development kit (SDK), and the Juniper QFX and PTX routing platforms using gRPC-based APIs.
Facebook cited numerous Open/R improvements compared with current Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) and Intermediate System to Intermediate System (IS-IS) protocols. These include being IPv6 first while also supporting native IPv4 routing, and support for software updates without impacting traffic forwarding.
“While traditional routing protocols have been instrumental to the progress of technology in the past few decades, we are approaching the point where networks need to evolve even faster,” the company noted in a blog post. “Open/R is an open platform that makes it easy to rapidly test and deploy new ideas at scale, making our networks more efficient, quicker to deploy, and easier to manage.”
The platform was initially used for the social media giant’s Terragraph wireless backhaul network, before migrating to support its global fiber network backbone. This led to initial interest from wireless companies looking to manage distribution of network performance information to and from their geographically diverse deployments.
Facebook is also using the platform for its data center fabrics, its FBOSS switch control software, and its Open Compute Project (OCP) networking hardware. The company has been using Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) for large-scale fabrics, but found Open/R simplifies the design process.
Facebook has a history of releasing platforms to the open source community, though its disaggregation efforts have been somewhat stymied by the sheer size of the company. As an example, the company was behind the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), which has garnered a reputation as being a “Facebook project.”