Facebook's has produced a new top-of-rack data center switch (called Wedge) and switch OS (called FBOSS) meant to run on a cheap micro server board that can easily be swapped out.
GigaOm observes Facebook doesn't simply want cheaper hardware, but is also looking to "eliminate the network engineer and run its networking operations in the same easily swapped out and dynamic fashion as their servers."
Facebook stresses Wedge/FBOSS' modularity - "You could use an ARM-based microserver rather than the Intel-based microserver we've selected. Or you could take the electronics and repackage them in a new enclosure..." - and says the design will be submitted to its Open Compute initiative, thus allowing OEMs to begin using it.
Wedge/FBOSS are aimed squarely at Cisco (CSCO), which dominates the data center switch market (71% estimated share) with its proprietary gear. Rivals such as newly-public Arista Networks (ANET) are also in its crosshairs.
John Chambers has already called white-label hardware - beloved not only by Facebook, but also Amazon and Google - Cisco's biggest long-term threat. Facebook's move comes shortly after JPMorgan noted sales of white-box switches rose 18.6% Y/Y in Q1, and made up 9.3% of 10-gig port shipments.
Last year: Facebook working on new networking fabric