Project Falco Contributes to OpenSwitch, a Linux Foundation Project

June 1, 2016

Co-authors: Saikrishna Kotha and Shawn Zandi

We recently wrote a blog post on Project Falco, our new disaggregated switching platform that is part of Altair, LinkedIn’s next-generation data center design. Our vision is to build a programmable data center fabric on top of an open network operating system. While scaling our data centers out, we want to control the complexity of data center fabric by moving toward a fully-automated, self-healing, and purpose-built application-centric network that operates on its own. By building a native Linux-based network operating system with open interfaces, it is now possible to manage switches and extend visibility, controls, and applications to network elements in the same way we do on servers.

The high-level design goals of Project Falco are to:

  • Reduce the number of protocols and less-used features to an absolute minimum set;
  • Enable a programmable data center fabric through network automation and true programmability;
  • Integrate a Kafka-based publish/subscribe messaging pipeline for gaining telemetry/visibility by exporting the entire switch state to a scaled-out data store;
  • Build analytics-based dashboards and an auto-remediation, self-healing network, leveraging Nurse for insights and ease of operation.
  • Project Falco Architecture

Our focus is on control plane design and application layer technologies—we want to spend less time building a network operating system from scratch. This means that we are currently exploring many different solutions for providing a best-in-class operating system for our switches. Currently, we are looking at both the commercial and open source community efforts that we believe hold the most promise.

As part of this effort, the Production Engineering Operations (PEO) team at LinkedIn has spent the last few months closely working with the OpenSwitch initiative. The modular design in this initiative could potentially create an easy way to adapt a minimal feature set that could enable us to overlay our control plane architecture in the future. That’s why today’s announcement that OpenSwitch is becoming a Linux Foundation project is very exciting news. As a founding member of this project, we are looking forward to actively participating in the development of OpenSwitch, sharing end-user requirements, and contributing innovations to the OpenSwitch community.

LinkedIn is a huge proponent of and contributor to open source initiatives. We see clear business benefits in being active members of the open source community and continuing to share our knowledge with others. We believe this Linux Foundation OpenSwitch initiative has the potential to become a strong contributor to the creation of a community-driven network operating system.  


Special thanks to the members of the Project Falco team who have contributed to this effort: Yuval Bachar, Ravi Jonnadula, Zhenggen Xu, and Russ White.