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Facebook reconfigures its open network switch called the Backpack

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January 25, 2017

We learned today that Facebook has largely modified a few of its Wedge 100 Gbps internet switches and then reconfigured them as a larger 128-port, 100 Gbps open network unit that it now calls the Backpack.

Facebook's new Backpack switch was announced at this week's Disaggregate Networking Conference.

It runs the company's in-house FBOSS networking system and OpenBMC baseboard management implementations.

Facebook says its Backpack chassis is “equivalent to a set of 12 Wedge 100 switches connected together”.

And Backpack's internal topology is very simple-- four fabric cards meshed to the line cards. That's it.

Cumulus Networks moved in parallel, announcing that Backpack running Cumulus Linux OS is available for order.

Facebook's open hardware with its open network operating system is probably capable of taking a sizeable market share from the incumbents, some are now suggesting.

Being able to sell the solution means that Cumulus is moving beyond the realm of demonstrating what's possible, and delivering disaggregated, open hardware and software that's mature.

That number of 100 Gbps ports is an insane amount of throughput, built beautifully into a really smart package. The software has a complete L2/L3 protocol suite, tested at scale, in a package that is hoped can outdo anything in the market, including solutions from legacy vendors.

Naturally, plenty of companies have claimed to outdo Cisco in the recent past, and ended up either beaten or outright acquired right out of the water.

But a Facebook/Cumulus solution isn't just the disaggregation of hardware and operating system-- it's also a market disaggregation.

Expect Facebook to be quiet on this, and on its own is big enough to be a viable provider in its own right.

Cumulus' offering is in partnership with hardware manufacturer Celestica. The company also demonstrated its operating system running on Facebook's Wedge 100 Gbps switch at the Disaggregate Networking Conference held recently.

Source: Facebook.


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