Facebook, Google, and Big Switch Networks at this week’s Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit will demonstrate three approaches to network operating systems all built with Open Network Linux (ONL) and all running on OCP switch hardware.
All built with ONL is interesting to me. This is making the case ONL is simply an underlying Linux distribution. Why this wasn’t clear to me before is because of the poor messaging around all of these projects. You can see from my previous posts here, here and here some of the confusion.
Looking further in the article from sdxcentral:
“ONL is increasingly becoming the de facto standard for switch hardware platform-level code,” Forster wrote in an email to SDxCentral. “With this demo, it is now public that it is getting used in Facebook’s FBOSS and Google’s Stratum projects, the largest end-user open source network projects in the industry.”
OK, so ONL is really the underlying Linux, that’s clear to me now.
Tomorrow, at the annual OCP Summit in San Jose, California, teams from all three companies will demo Google’s network operating system (NOS) supporting P4 Runtime, Facebook’s FBOSS-based NOS, and Big Switch’s BGP-based concept NOS. All three can perform Layer-3 networking, according to Big Switch.
Specifically, the Google demo shows this with centralized software-defined networking (SDN) controllers and P4 programming; the Facebook demo shows this with the Thrift protocol; and the Big Switch demo shows this with an industry-standard BGP protocol.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so lets start with the fact that Google and Facebook will now be showing off their own control stack on top of ONL. The lower layer is now officially being commoditized, and the fact they are all building on top of ONL shows this.
It’s also interesting to note here there are 3 different control stacks which will be shown here: Google will use SDN controllers and P4, Facebook will use Thrift, and Big Switch shows off BGP. Each has taken a different approach around control, and this also shows the real value is much higher up the stack than the commoditized underlying operating system. Also note Google and Facebook are likely using 100% implementation specific controllers for their own environments, making them less useful for anyone other than Google or Facebook. Big Switch’s attempt to use BGP may make it more useful to a broader audience.
The last thing I’ll note is that the one absence from this demonstration is AT&T’s dNOS. It’s a notable omission, as even SONIC from Microsoft shows up on the ONL website as using ONL as the underlying operating system.
The OCP Summit next week will be an interesting event as we look to see these demonstrations.