scorecardThings are getting testy between two key players in Facebook's hugely important Open Compute Project
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Things are getting testy between two key players in Facebook's hugely important Open Compute Project

Things are getting testy between two key players in Facebook's hugely important Open Compute Project
Enterprise3 min read
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg    AP Photo/Ben Margot

When Facebook launched its Open Compute Project back in 2011, it was hoping to radically change the multi-billion dollar computer hardware industry. And by nearly all accounts, it did - especially the computer networking industry.

OCP creates open source hardware for data centers that includes servers, storage, networking equipment, and other stuff. Engineers can freely take hardware designs and collaborate and change them, with no intellectual property concerns.

With the success of the organization, the politics within OCP networking group are starting to get a little heated, Business Insider has learned.

There are two networking software startups who want to be top dog among the OCP world. One is Cumulus Networks, founded by JR Rivers, a former star engineer at Cisco. Cumulus became a darling of Dell after billionaire Michael Dell called Rivers on the phone one day out of the blue. Founded in 2010, it's raised $86 million and has 500 paying customers, Rivers says.

In the other corner is SnapRoute. SnapRoute was founded by Apple's networking team in 2015 after the secretive Apple refused to let them join OCP and the whole Apple team quit the same week. (Apple has since joined OCP.)

Since then, SnapRoute, led by CEO Jason Forrester, seems to be everywhere. Its software was selected to work with Facebook's new Voyager optical network device, a piece of hardware taking on the telecommunications hardware industry.

Cumulus Networks

Cumulus Networks JR Rivers

SnapRoute also overthrew HPE from the technical leadership on a Linux Foundation networking project called OpenSwitch, a project created by HPE.

A scathing slam-fest

Last month, the co-chair of the OCP networking group, Carlos Cardenas, who works for Cumulus Networks, threw a public tantrum of sorts when he wrote a scathing take-down of his competitor SnapRoute for a popular blog in the network industry called PacketPushers.

The powers at OCP were not pleased to see one OCP member disparaging another, multiple sources told Business Insider.

And sure enough, about two weeks later, Cardenas was publicly out from his role at OCP, writing in his farewell post, "In this rodeo, no one rides the bull longer than 8 seconds. It's my time for me to get off the bull and hang my hat. Translation: I'm stepping down from my role as co-chair effective immediately."

Jason Forrester SnapRoute


Jason Forrester, founder CEO SnapRoute

Rivers tells us that that Cardenas "stepped down from his role as co-lead for the OCP networking project for personal reasons" and that another Cumulus engineer, Scott Emery, has taken his place on that committee.

Rivers has distanced himself from the scathing article, too, saying, "Carlos' PacketPushers post was his opinion, done outside of Cumulus and OCP influence."

There was another problem with the post. The people it was aimed at were laughing at it. The very thing that Cardenas said was SnapRoute's biggest flaw - that it didn't include its own operating system - was actually its fundamental purpose.

SnapRoute is software that lets a company manage its network devices that can run on any operating system.

"I was laughing with my friends," a network engineer with knowledge of the whole kerfuffle told us about that article.

As for Forrester's reaction, he seems to find it all a little amusing, too. When we asked him for comment he replied: "Article VIII of the OCP by-laws prohibits me from speaking about OCP or other OCP members. That said our traction speaks for itself."

That's his not-so-subtle way of saying OCP is supposed to be a warm and welcoming place and when competitors slam each other there, they tend to get slammed back.

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