Facebook Flexes Its ‘6-Pack’ Networking Switch

The world of commercial networking switches is about to experience a burst of competition, thanks to a new open-source project launched by Facebook. The project, a modular switch platform known as EU6-pack,EU is designed to be a cheaper and more scalable alternative to other network devices, and should give companies like Cisco and Juniper a run for the their money.

EUAs FacebookEUs infrastructure has scaled, weEUve frequently run up against the limits of traditional networking technologies, which tend to be too closed, too monolithic, and too iterative for the scale at which we operate and the pace at which we move,EU Yuval Bachar, Hardware Networking Engineer at Facebook wrote on the companyEUs Code blog. EUWith EU6-pack,EU we have created an architecture that enables us to build any size switch using a simple set of common building blocks.EU

Open, Modular and Agnostic

The 6-pack is designed to be simpler than the typical networking switch produced by the likes of Cisco and Juniper, allowing Facebook, and potentially anyone else, to scale their network operations much more easily. The platform is designed to be open, modular and agnostic with regard to both switching technology and software.

Facebook said it plans to make the designs for the switch open source through the Open Compute Project, which could potentially spell trouble for established switch makers accustomed to limited competition and high margins on their devices. Facebook said that it is already in contact with other companies hoping to use its design.

This is not the first time the company has designed a network switch, however. Facebook provided a clue as to where it was heading last year, when it introduced the top-of-rack EUWedgeEU networking switch, which ran on a Linux-based operating system known as FBOSS. The new switch uses the Wedge system and its operating system as a building...

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