Data Center Infrastructure

Equinix Taps Facebook as Open Source Data Center Collaborator

In something of a whirlwind courtship, data center operator Equinix has chosen Facebook as its technology partner in building an open source platform for the global facilities it operates to support its International Business Exchange (IBX) and Cloud Exchange services. The interconnection giant announced today that the Wedge open source switches developed by Facebook and available through the Open Compute Project (OCP) will be its hardware platform for an open ecosystem. (See Equinix Leverages Facebook Technology for Open Source Data Centers.)

The announcement comes ahead of the OCP US Summit 2016 this week and is a separate agreement from Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX)'s recent involvement in Open Compute Project 's Telco Infrastructure Project (TIP), launched at Mobile World Congress. (See Facebook TIPs Telcos Towards Open Source Networks.)

Facebook is a big Equinix customer, but Ihab Tarazi, Equinix CTO, says his company hadn't really taken a look at the technology the social media giant was helping develop inside OCP until it learn about TIP from some of its largest customers, including AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom, in January.

"If you had told me even six months ago, that we would be collaborating with Facebook on data center technology, I wouldn't have believed it," Tarazi admits, in an interview with Light Reading. The effort doesn't fall under either TIP or OCP but is a direct agreement between the two companies that came out of those January talks. "We have moved very quickly, leveraging Facebook's technology and also Mesosphere" as the software operating system to run on top of the Wedge 100 switches.

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Tarazi, a telecom industry veteran who came to Equinix from Verizon, calls the Wedge 100 "the first legitimate white box for the networking space" that is designed with the kind of throughput needed for an operation such as his, which serves more than 1,100 network providers, as well as 500-plus cloud service providers in dense data centers globally. In their January meeting, Facebook was able to show him the Wedge 100 with 100-Gigabit optical plugins and the CPU needed for carrier networking.

"We now have boxes for the networking space that can leverage OCP that did not exist before," Tarazi says. "The Wedge 100 box is the first one with mass scale that people can really put to use in the networking space."

The Mesosphere Datacenter Operating System (DCOS), already used at very high scale, will power the open source platform and its architecture will allow Equinix to upstack containers and run them in multiple different environments, he says, supporting deployments of NFV and SDN, among other things.

Equinix is preparing its data center architecture to support the massive amounts of volume it sees ahead with big data and analytics, 5G wireless, the Internet of Things and hybrid clouds, Tarazi says. "If you fast forward a year or two from now when you have mass-scale containers that need to be moved across networks and clouds back and forth with security, quality and performance [to support] big data and analytics, all that massive amount of volume we are expecting, this is the kind of architecture that is needed, he says.

Equinix will announce in a month or two when it will start deployment but it expects to launch a test bed or trial this year. The new technology will grow up alongside the company's existing exchanges, Tarazi says, with both continuing to exist for some time to come. The new platform will support newer services such as IoT and 5G while the traditional exchange services continue to operate as they have in the past.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

jbtombes 3/10/2016 | 8:16:29 AM
6 months Revealing comment that Tarazi couldn't have imagined doing this six months ago. How fast things change. Today is seems like a no shocker. But maybe all the expert voters over at Telco Transformation who dissed white box as a change agent need a re-think. (Full disclosure, I voted - and not for white box.)
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