Equinix edged around Wedge, fell back into proprietary embrace

Ye olde networking giants still deliver for this big bit-shipper

Global data operator Equinix has sniffed around the white box networking scene, but found traditional suppliers are innovating more quickly and still have an edge.

So says chief technology officer Ihab Tarazi as Chief Technology Officer, who this week told The Reg that the company has considered Facebook's Wedge switches.

Wedge switches run another Facebook invention, the “FBOSS” Linux distribution dedicated to shuffling packets about.

Facebook's ambition is to turn vanilla servers into decent switches, in part because it feels networking vendors aren't entirely forthcoming with granular details about how their devices work.

Equinix's interest in networking comes from its peering and Cloud Exchange operations. The latter connects multiple clouds, using Equinix bit barns as hubs. Peering is a very handy tool for carriers and content providers, as it helps to get content closer to its consumers.

The bit barn operator therefore shops from the scary end of networking companies' catalogs, and Tarazi said it prefers Juniper for data-centre-to-data-centre links and Arista for shorter hops.

Both companies, he said, are beating out white box switches.

“Every time we look at Wedge, Juniper or Arista leapfrogs it,” Tarazi said.

Equinix has unusual needs, and Wedge is perhaps designed for a different set of unusual needs. That Facebook's open alternative isn't quite cutting at Equinix is not therefore a sign the project is foundering.

It is, however, perhaps a hint that commercial networking vendors remain very attuned to the needs of their larger clients and understand how to keep them satisfied. ®

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