We’re thrilled to announce that Facebook has partnered with Cumulus Networks to bring you the industry’s first open optical routing platform loaded with Cumulus Linux. That’s right, Cumulus Networks is branching into some exciting new territory (a new voyage… if you will). We couldn’t be more honored and excited to work closely with Facebook to bring scalability and cost-effective hardware and software to the optical space — an industry that is growing rapidly.

Bandwidth for Internet services is becoming a more tangible challenge every single day, but the current proprietary solutions are too expensive and do not scale. As Facebook explained, “the highest-performing ‘bandwidth and reach’ are still fiber-based technologies — in particular, switching, routing, and transport DWDM technologies.” With the popularity of services that require a lot of bandwidth, like VR and video, there has become a critical need for better backhaul infrastructure that is cost-effective and scalable and supports high-performing wireless connectivity. The issue becomes even more critical when considering a variety of geographic conditions. For instance, rural regions need long backhaul pipes, which is cost-prohibitive.

That’s where Voyager comes in. Voyager was designed to bring the Internet to everyone — from dense urban locations to remote rural spaces. As a disaggregated solution, the initiative is designed to make it easy for operators to connect more people in a more flexible and cost-efficient way.

What is Voyager?

To put it succinctly, Voyager is open transponder hardware contributed by Facebook, designed specifically to address the need for scalable, cost-effective backhaul infrastructure. Voyager uses Open Packet DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing), an approach Facebook developed that separates hardware from software in metro and long-haul fiber optic transport networks. Both Open Packet DWDM and Voyager were contributed to the TIP last year by Facebook (If you’re attending the TIP Summit this year, be sure to stop by our booth and say hi, and catch our CEO Josh Leslie in the Open Optical Packet Transport Update panelist discussion.)

Voyager leverages data center technologies first implemented in Wedge 100, Facebook’s top-of-rack switch. As first described in their blog post:

“The Voyager transponder includes the same switch ASIC as Wedge 100 for aggregating the 100 GbE client signals (Broadcom Tomahawk). In addition, Voyager implemented the DSP ASIC and optics module (AC400) from Acacia Communications for the DWDM line side with their open development environment. We worked with Lumentum to develop a terminal amplifier specification so that multiple applications can run on top of the open software layer to enable software innovations in DWDM system control algorithms and network management systems. Voyager’s optical capabilities cover applications from metro to ultra-long-haul reaches.

Why Cumulus Linux on Voyager?

Traditionally, optical vendors have been mostly focused on designing innovative hardware, but the software side of the technology has been lacking. With the introduction of Voyager, Facebook saw this as an opportunity to find an operating system that could bring robust automation, visibility and efficiency to the software side of optics. This is the beauty of disaggregation — different vendors can focus on what they are good at, and customers can choose the best hardware and software solutions for their business needs.

With that motivation in mind, Facebook was looking for a solution that provided interfaces for programmability, automation and cost-efficiency as well as offered the best L2/L3 stack and an open Linux model that gives operators visibility. Since Cumulus Linux meets all these requirements, it was an easy match.

As the industry’s leading open networking operating system, the Cumulus Linux feature set is unparalleled (and we continue to innovate). Facebook was looking for software that was open, innovative and robust — which is exactly what we offer. In the marriage of IP and Optical, Cumulus Linux’s routing protocol stack, VLXAN, and EVPN help customers build cost-effective, high-performance long haul systems. Plus, we’ve already worked with Facebook on both the Backpack chassis and the Wedge fixed-form to bring web-scale networking to some of the best open hardware options. We look at this as an exciting opportunity to bring the Linux networking model to the optics space.

You can learn more about our partnership with Facebook, and hear from our CEO, by checking out our press release on the same topic and reading the TIP blog post. 

When can I get one?

Voyager with Cumulus Linux is expected to be generally available for production use in early 2018 through partner ADVA Optical Networking. If you’d like to stay in the know, contact our sales team and we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as the technology unfolds.