Facebook Developing Open Source Optical Transport

It is hard to argue, in any way, with the statement that “meeting the demands of increasing global internet usage requires a combination of wireless connectivity and scalable, cost-effective backhaul infrastructure,” Facebook engineers say.

You might argue that is correct, but not especially meaningful. You might be wrong, as Facebook engineers are working on a number of those fundamental technologies, looking to create open source gear and platforms for service providers.

Facebook is working on new open-source approaches to switching, routing and optical transport called Open Packet DWDM.

Open Packet DWDM uses combined packet and dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) technology for metro and long-haul fiber optic transport networks. That is not surprising. What is different is Facebook’s determination to create open source--and therefore lower cost--platforms long haul networks can use.

Open Packet DWDM enables a clean separation of software and hardware--all open source--so anyone can contribute packet or DWDM systems, components, or software.

Facebook will contribute Open Packet DWDM to theTelecom Infra Project (TIP).

Already, Facebook has used Open Packet DWDM to develop a new transponder platform called Voyager. Voyager is described as the industry’s first “white box” transponder and routing solution.
“By unbundling the hardware and software in existing ‘black box’ systems, which include transponders, filters, line systems, and control and management software, we can advance each component independently and deliver even more bandwidth with greater cost efficiency,” Facebook engineers believe.
Facebook partners “have helped us successfully test Voyager and begin to build an ecosystem around it.”
The design will be contributed to TIP as part of the Backhaul: Open Optical Packet Transport (OOPT) project group, with the aim of encouraging more open and programmable network architectures.
Figure 2: Voyager transponder with 12 QSFP28 ports and 4 x200G DWDM line ports.
The first version of Voyager leverages data center technologies that Facebook implemented in Wedge 100, Facebook's top-of-rack switch.
Laboratory measurement results using Voyager early units configured for 200 Gbps per wavelength capacity using 16QAM modulation have reached up to 180 km distances.

“We believe that Voyager is powerful enough to support metro and long-haul data center interconnect applications,” Facebook engineers say.

“We successfully tested the packet-optical transponders in field trials with Equinix in the U.S. and MTN in South Africa, and we plan to open-source the Voyager software, similar to the FBOSS software for Wedge 100,” they say. “The open approach to development of optical packet systems will allow for faster time to market and a lower barrier of entry for new technologies.”
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