OCP Summit San Jose 2016 / Network

By: Michel Moriniaux / 31 Mar 2016

As much as last years’ OCP summit in Paris was full of promises and nothing to show, this year’s summit in San José delivered!

Several large OEMs and users were represented this year with notable contributions from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and a special mention for Edge-Core Networks.

Microsoft stole most of the show with its announcement of the open-sourcing of their Network Operating System that runs most MSFT datacenters across the world. Even better: they released V2.0! (Their DCs will still be running V1.0until mid-April)

The new NOS is called SONiC  http://azure.github.io/SONiC/ and is a collection of agents running on plain Debian. The agents are based on several frameworks developed by MSFT:

– SAI: Switch Abstraction Interface a hardware abstraction layer to the diverse hardware that can be found on networking devices: from special I2c buses, LED drivers, environmental sensors to the core of the device: the ASIC that does the switching

– The internal KV store based on Redis serving as a central repository for all configuration elements.

Microsoft also announced the support of their NOS by several vendors: Arista, Mellanox, Edge-core amongst others.

The main takeaway here is the fact that we are finally looking at the true de-aggregation of the networking hardware stack and the unification of the network OS. This is now possible thanks to the fact that the main chipset vendors have open sourced their SDKs and « drivers » are now available. Actually most entrenched network vendors’ stock took a plunge after the announcement.

I had several very interesting discussions on de-aggregation with Facebook’s network hardware lead program manager, Microsoft SONiC Project leads and FB’s VP of network engineering on this topic. I was happy to learn that the effort that we’ve already started to lab here at Criteo’s Network team as a next step to our NoNo automation system is aligned with what these large companies see: the future lies in using a single OSS NOS and multi-source the underlying hardware.

Facebook presented its own hardware in its booth:

– Wedge, the 16 port 40G switch it has been using as Top of Rack in its new datacenter. Designed in-house out of OEM equipment and open-sourced for all to use.


– Wedge100, the next generation ToR based on thirty-two 100G ports (these are splittable into 4x25G ports for high speed servers)

– Six-Pack, their POD spine switch which is a chassis form factor (more on this in the following paragraph)

Edge-core presented a full suite of new offerings. Edge-Core is the direct-to-market subsidiary of Accton Computer who is the main OEM providing hardware to most Network vendors (Juniper, Cisco, Dell, Arista, etc..). It’s the manufacturer of Facebook’s hardware and thus can sell the Wedge series for other customer’s deployments.

The most interesting offer by Edge-Core was the introduction of their new chassis OMP800 and OMP1600.

Like Six-Pack, this high density offer is very different from other vendor’s chassis offer: it is not seen and managed as one single device but a collection of individual devices, each configured individually and interconnected in a Clos matrix. This concept allows a savings of at least 30% on a traditional single element build as the power-supplies are mutualized and the switch-to-switch interconnect is done through a backplane which reduces the price on optics while giving higher reliability. With four of the above chassis we could do the interconnect capacity of PA4 in the space of one rack! Better yet: being OCP we can build it to our specs for our app, striping down most of the useless bells and whistles of vendor products.

The last interesting news item was the availability of the Broadcom Qumran platform on white box switches, this would allow us to build low-cost edge routers (10x less than what we pay today) for our datacenters, empowered by our current Border6 solution.

On the last day of the conference we were invited to visit the Hyve Solutions  http://hyvesolutions.com/ factory floor: This was a truly impressive experience, we got to see custom server assembly lines, fully populated rack assembly lines with racks for FB, amazon, eBay and others as well as their network fabric racks. We are bound by NDAs so can’t say much except that this visit really made us drool and gave us a lot of ideas to be more efficient in our builds. (go their website for pics)

The OCP initiative has advanced at an impressive pace in the past year, I’m impatient to see what next year will bring!


  • Michel Moriniaux

    Michel Moriniaux, Staff Ops Lead, R&D, Infra – Network