Have you stayed awake late at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering, “What is Facebook’s Wedge technology, and what does it mean?”
This is Facebook’s own initiative to drive new technology standards for Webscale data centers to lower costs and improve interoperability.
If you haven’t heard, open technologies are taking over the data center. Virtualization technologies such as OpenStack, KVM, and OpenFlow – as well as many others – are being used as the foundation for new data-center architectures. Facebook wants to take this a step further with OCP, which is creating a series of specs in hardware and data center design, for everything from power supplies to mechanical systems. This follows the concept of disaggregation – the ability to build entire data centers based on open, interchangeable parts. Think of it as Lego blocks for cloud computing.
But it goes even further — Facebook is even rolling out its own technology and publicizing it. Its Wedge is a data-center network switch that includes a MicroServer, 40G switching ASIC, and sixteen 40Gbit/s network ports. In short, it’s a powerful server-switch. Just as Google did when it started making its own Ethernet switch, the Wedge is causing quite a bit of chatter among networking circles because essentially the customer has decided to make its own hardware. This is part of an emerging technology class known as the “bare-metal switch.”
OCP and the Wedge are part of a big wave of technology to make data center technologies open and more interoperable. It dovetails well with the Software Defined Networking (SDN) movement, which aims to define a set of open standards for networking software that can be loaded onto commodity hardware, a concept known in the industry as “white boxes.”