Facebook is well known around the world for its social network offering. Now, the tech giant wants to dive into computer networking as well, the very heart of what makes the Internet go around. Facebook is hoping to shake up the marketplace, long dominated by companies like Cisco and Hewlett Packard, with a newly devised computer networking switch called the Wedge. The idea is to make an open-source hybrid computer server slash network device that is extremely fast and a lot easier for engineers and small businesses to work with.
“The bigger strategy here is to get computer networking out of the black box, black operations part of the world,” said Najam Ahmad, the vice president of network engineering at Facebook. “We have tons of software engineers at Facebook, they can all work on network stuff now.”
The device donned the “Wedge,” is designed to work with other proprietary and open-source networking devices, and could push the limits of mainstream computer networks from 40 gigabits per second to 100 gigabits by the end of the year.
This new Wedge chip should greatly speed up Facebook’s vast social network and the open-source model introduced could threaten long-monopolized and traditional networking paradigms. “Cisco is looking at this, Arista is looking at this,” Ahmad said. “It presents challenges to an appliance-based model of selling networking. If you are committed to that over time, you’ll be limited to severing smaller businesses.”
Facebook’s new networking chip and open-source collaboration could lower the costs of computing hardware to the same degree Linux did operating system software, as compared in The New York Times.