A few days after I published a blog post arguing that most service providers cannot possibly copy Google’s ideas Giacomo Bernardi wrote a comment saying “well, we managed to build our own gear.”
- Together with an ODM manufacturer they built their own hardware;
- They pushed their hardware through rigorous safety, environmental and emission testing – after all, those boxes sit out there in the wild attached to a radio tower;
- They build their own Linux distribution and hardened it as much as possible – sending a technician to a remote mountain to fix a failed software upgrade is a non-starter;
- Using 6Wind library they implemented a highly distributed forwarding architecture using dozens of low-cost CPU cores;
- Together with university researchers they built a central controller that solves the centralized traffic engineering challenge;
- On top of everything else they implemented their own CLI and network management system.
Each one of those bullets would be good enough to trigger VC funding for a startup, but they did all of that with a team of just a few people… and deployed it in large-scale production… in approximately a year. Comparing what such a small team can do with all the hype and unicorn dust bursting out of Silicon Valley makes one really depressed.