(Photo: That’s not a Big Switch person on stage at the OCP Summit; that’s Frank Frankovsky. See below.)
During a Summit keynote Tuesday morning, OCP Chairman Frank Frankovsky namedropped Big Switch, noting the company’s contribution (which he didn’t specify) had arrived in the last 24 hours.
Big Switch’s submission likely went to the Open Compute Networking Project, which OCP launched in May as a way to bring open-source concepts to networking hardware. Mellanox also submitted technology to the Networking Project this week — a 40-Gb/s network interface card (NIC) based, of course, on Mellanox’s ConnectX-3 Pro chips.
Sherwood had floated this idea for Switch Light during an OCP engineering workshop last November in San Antonio, Texas. (The OCP Summit is an annual event, whereas workshops happen throughout the year.) The reception was strong enough that Sherwood and his team have spent the intervening months honing the idea.
The basic code for Switch Light is already open-source; Big Switch introduced it in March as a “thin switch” package — software for running a virtual switch or for a physical, white-box switch. Big Switch has been adding more intelligence on top of that foundation — glue code for Big Switch’s own implementations. By getting OCP support for Switch Light, Big Switch would be inviting other companies to do the same. It would also be a way to give Switch Light some wider distribution.
“We’ll see what the reception is. If it’s there, we’ll take it forward. If not, we’ll use Switch Light for ourselves,” Murray says.
Big Switch has to hope this goes better than the company’s experience with OpenDaylight did. Big Switch submitted most of the Floodlight controller to OpenDaylight, but the consortium instead went with an option that included some of Floodlight but used Cisco‘s service abstraction layer (SAL) as a base. Big Switch subsequently dropped out of OpenDaylight.
Open Networking on the Rise
Most of the networking discussion at the Summit will be happening Wednesday, as Tuesday’s keynote talks were devoted more to OCP’s computing side. Frankovsky did give the networking group credit during his opening keynote, though, noting that it’s “grown tremendously” and is likely to make an impact in 2014.
OCP hasn’t revealed the number of Networking Project participants, but even if that number by itself isn’t “tremendous,” the idea’s rapid spread has been. The Networking Project started rather suddenly with no preconceived ideas as to what an open network ought to look like; the idea was to let the community start messing around and see what would happen, Frankovsky said.
The first wave of submissions to the group came in November, including switch designs from Broadcom (possibly with a hand from Interface Masters Technologies, Intel, and Mellanox. (Yes, Mellanox has submitted two things. They’re really into this.)