Facebook’s new “Wedge” platform is the chatter of the networking world. Why is that? It encapsulates the new genre of powerful, open networking platforms, including Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV).
First off, what is it? Facebook has announced that they are building the “Wedge,” their own top-of-rack networking switch. As I wrote last week on SDNcentral, this came just before several subsequent SDN announcements by companies such as Pluribus Networks and Extreme, all focused on their SDN strategy.
It seems to me the central concept of SDN is accelerating. Facebook’s own switch reminds me of when Google strung together its own fiber to build its own optical network. Google also built its own data-center switches. The customer wants more power, and the pairing of powerful, open, standard hardware, loaded with sophisticated SDN software gets the job done better than any vendor lock-down.
Listen to the customer. In the Facebook post, Facebook’s engineers Yuval Bachar and Adam Simpkins describe the world of disaggregation, in which individual networking and server technology can be broken down into components that can be interchanged with commodity hardware and control software. Facebook is even working on its own Linux-based operating system for the Wedge switch, code-named “FBOSS.”
This is the white box concept in a nutshell. This is the creativity and innovation we’ve been looking for in SDN, in which customers, partners and vendors can use the power of open technologies to combine them in new ways. It’s resulting in the integration of the two discrete “industries,” data-center servers and networking. Storage, which is also being virtualized, will be next to join ranks. That’s why technology giants in many markets, such as Cisco, HP, IBM, are taking notice and carefully plotting strategies before their markets are changed forever.