If necessity is the mother of invention, then the need for cheap, efficient, compact servers and network equipment has made Facebook an innovator of gear optimized for cloud data centers and workloads. It’s leadership in the development of standard, hyper scale hardware using interchangeable commodity components led to the Open Compute Project (OCP), bootstrapped by designs and hardware specifications intended for Facebook’s first data center. Two years and five Open Compute Summits later, the project has over 150 members and a growing list of technical specs.
Facebook isn’t stopping with custom servers and it’s just pushed open source hardware disruption to a realm of data center infrastructure that once seemed untouchable by the forces of commodification: networking. By announcing a top-of-rack (ToR) switch and associated OS, code-named Wedge and FBOSS respectively, Facebook could do for network hardware what white box Intel servers with a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP or Python) did for cloud servers. Read more in my Forbes column.