Today Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) takes on Cisco with Wedge, which brings the company into the $23 billion Ethernet switch market, which is dominated by Cisco Systems. Facebook Wedge is part of the Open Compute Project (OCP), which is an initiative focused on disrupting the computer hardware market.
OCP has free and open source designs where anyone can contribute designs and use them for free. Facebook leads the project, but it has become beneficial to the cloud computing industry. Facebook saved “over $1 billion” by using the hardware that was invented by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
About a year ago, OCP announced that it was planning to build a network switch, which was designed as a software-defined networking (SDN) device. The SDN market as a whole is a threat to Cisco’s networking business.
SDN takes features that are built into network equipment like security and network management and integrates it into the software. The hardware switch becomes easier to manage and is much less expensive.
Cisco released its own SDN product line recently as a way to encourage people to keep buying its high-performance gear by including features that only work with its networking products. The Facebook Wedge is already being tested in its own data centers though.
Facebook Wedge is open source, which means that the software and the hardware can be seen and modified by developers. Some of the other companies that work with OCP include Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Rackspace, and Intel. Enterprises cannot buy the switch from Facebook, but would have to order it from a custom manufacturer like all other OCP designs. Here is how Wedge works: