On Tuesday, Facebook Inc. (FB) announced that its second-generation top-of-rack computer network switch, the “Wedge 100,” is now on sale through its Chinese contract manufacturer, Edgecore, targeting San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), which traditionally generates a bulk of revenues from its networking hardware sales. (See also: Legacy Tech Looks Toward an IoT Future.)

The OCP Inspires a Collaborative Tech Eco-System

The latest ultra-fast 100G Wedge 100 switch is part of Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP), a technology project that aims to revolutionize computer hardware in the same way that the Linux operating system did for software—by making it open source. The OCP allows anyone to take hardware designs for free and modify them, with contract manufacturers on standby to build them. The OCP boasts a collaborative mission, growing rapidly into a global entity with a committed group of followers. Board members include leaders from Facebook, Goldman Sachs Group (GS), Intel Corp. (INTC), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and a cofounder of Cisco rival Arista Networks (ANET), reports Business Insider.



By offering the switch design as open source, Facebook has inspired an entire eco-system of companies that are essentially in a collective battle against market leader Cisco, which holds a 59% share of the market, according to the IDC.

Startups and Tech Giants Enter Software-Defined Networking Space

As part of the larger open-source project, Facebook will also give away the software for the Wedge 100, allowing other tech companies to sell commercial software to improve on the switch. Startups in the space include Big Switch Networks, Ubuntu, Apstra and SnapRoute, a platform formed by a group of Apple Inc. (AAPL) engineers who quit after the firm reportedly refused to join the OCP. Bigger tech players in the software-defined networking market include Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) and Arista, two OCP members who have partnered up on the project. Microsoft is also developing its stance in the market with its Azure Stack.

As another direct threat to Cisco, Facebook has indicated further plans to release an even faster optical networking device currently in the development stage. (See also: Cisco Systems Stock Could Undergo a Revival.)

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