OCP Summit 2018 – Disaggregation Theme Dominates

The OCP Summit 2018 hit record attendance and we can can summarize the theme as that of continued disaggregation of network/server functions.  Examples of demonstrations, presentations and proposals associated with disaggregation are as follows:

  • Flash/SSD.  Project Denali was presented by Microsoft.  The idea is it separates SSD controller functions from the flash memory itself, allowing the controller to be modified for different work-loads.  This means, essentially, controller semiconductor companies such as Broadcom and Marvell may need to be selling directly to hyperscalers such as Microsoft, as well as to their historical customers – the SSD vendors – such as Western Digital and Samsung, for instance.  We believe other hyperscalers have implemented flash unbundling already.
  • Unbundling of Networking.  Facebook showed off its FBOSS, a network operating system.  Big Switch demostrated its FRR Open Source BGP, a routing protocol and Google showed off its Controller-based P4 system.  There was some levity in this presentation as the hardware upon which the Google system ran was “(not disclosed)” – see accompanying slide.
  • P4 network layer abstraction and programming environment.  Google showed what we believe to be a live, in-production system using P4 to perform route injection and many other functions.
  • Taking the OCP concept a bit further from the traditional server, storage and switch market, Mojo Networks demonstrated an Edgecore-supplied “OCP Accepted” Wireless LAN Access Point that was running the Mojo AP software and working with the Mojo Networks cloud-managed services offering.  This wasn’t just a desk unit, the company had 21 live-working Access Points using the OCP concept that powered WiFi to the trade-show floor.

One clear message away from disaggregation was presented and proposed separately both by Facebook and Arista was that for co-packaged optics.  Both companies explained that this integration will consume lower power; Arista went so far as to say it would consume 30% lower power on a system-wide basis.  There was no clear consensus at the show whether co-packaged optics was going to be a hit; however the power-hungry hyperscalers must certainly be entertaining it.