Facebook has made serious progress in its plans to revolutionize the $55 billion server industry and now wants to do the same for the network industry.
The two-year-old Facebook-led consortium called the Open Compute Project has announced plans to create an "open source" network switch.
This could disrupt the $22-billion-a-year Ethernet switch market that mostly belongs to Cisco. Cisco owns over 60% of it, according to IDC.
Najam Ahmad, who runs the network engineering team at Facebook, will lead this new OCP project.
A switch is a piece of hardware that connects different parts of a network and is a central piece of equipment for every enterprise network. OCP plans to make a new kind of switch designed from the get-go for "software-defined networking" (SDN) technology.
SDN is a new way to build networks. Instead of buying expensive hardware routers and switches with a lot of fancy features from companies like Cisco or Juniper, those fancy features are put into software. Companies can then use simpler, cheaper network hardware, and less of it.
A bunch of vendors have already signed on to support the new OCP switch. These include Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Cumulus Networks, Intel, Netronome, and VMware.
The project also has support from two organizations working on the open source SDN software: the Open Networking
Foundation and the Linux foundation project known as OpenDaylight. Cisco is part of the OpenDaylight project.
The overall goal of the Open Compute Project is to build faster, cheaper hardware for big data centers. Its hardware designs are free for anyone to use and modify.
Eventually, OCP wants to completely change how all enterprise hardware is built the same way that Linux and open source software changed the way software is created.