What is the Open Compute Project (OCP)?

Founded by Facebook, Intel, Rackspace, and Goldman Sachs in April 2011, the Open Compute Project (OCP) provides open source standards for high performance and highly efficient Data Centers. This includes servers, storage, networking and security.

Let us look at the two main projects within OCP centred around networking - The Open Compute Network Project and the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE).

Open Compute Network Project

The Open Compute Networking Project provides open source hardware specifications to build networking devices, mainly Ethernet switches. OCP networking specifications are mostly contributed to companies such as Facebook, Mellanox Technologies, Edgecore Networks, etc. The OCP network switch specification provides switch hardware designs starting from 48 x 1G up to 32 x 400G ports. These switches are based on merchant silicon chipsets from companies such as Mellanox Technologies, Broadcom Inc., and Cavium, with a CPU board (based on Intel or ARM processors) which supports standard network operating systems.[1]

One of the projects within the Open Compute Network Project, initiated by Facebook is a new top-of-rack network switch, code-named "Wedge". As per https://code.fb.com, Facebook states,

"Traditional network switches often use fixed hardware configurations and non-standard control interfaces, limiting the capabilities of the device and complicating deployments...

Unlike with traditional closed-hardware switches, with "Wedge" anyone can modify or replace any of the components in our design to better meet their needs. For example, you could use an ARM-based microserver rather than the Intel-based microserver we've selected. Or you could take the electronics and repackage them in a new enclosure, perhaps to solve a different set of problems outside the rack. We're excited to see where the community will take this design in the future."

image2-2
Figure 1 - The Wedge.[2]

Open Network Install Environment (ONIE)

The Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) is an open source initiative of the Open Compute Project, contributed by Cumulus Networks. ONIE provides a standard method to install a network operating system on bare metal network switches.[3]

The workflow of a NOS ONIE install is pretty simple. The low-level bootloader of the switch initializes the hardware and finally ONIE, (i.e., a Linux kernel with BusyBox on top). ONIE configures the management interface, loads the NOS installer, and executes it. ONIE can use various methods and configuration options for finding and loading the installation program.[4] The NOS installer can be located directly in ONIE, via DHCP, or PXE and the binary transfer of the NOS can be performed via TFTP or HTTP, or alternatively loaded via a locally attached USB disk.

image1-4
Figure 2 - ONIE process.[5]

Refereneces


  1. "edX | Online courses from the world's best ...." https://www.edx.org/. Accessed 10 Aug. 2018. ↩︎

  2. "Introducing "Wedge" and "FBOSS," the next steps ... - Facebook Code." 18 Jun. 2014, https://code.fb.com/data-center-engineering/introducing-wedge-and-fboss-the-next-steps-toward-a-disaggregated-network/. Accessed 10 Aug. 2018. ↩︎

  3. "edX | Online courses from the world's best ...." https://www.edx.org/. Accessed 10 Aug. 2018. ↩︎

  4. "Switched On - Admin Magazine 35/2016." http://coh.duckdns.org/ADMINMagazine/html/2016/35/086-089_OpenSwitch/086-089_OpenSwitch.html. Accessed 10 Aug. 2018. ↩︎

  5. "Switched On - Admin Magazine 35/2016." http://coh.duckdns.org/ADMINMagazine/html/2016/35/086-089_OpenSwitch/086-089_OpenSwitch.html. Accessed 10 Aug. 2018. ↩︎