The term white-box switches are common. What is the current status of these switches?
FREMONT, CA: In spite of clear cost benefits, very few enterprise IT shops are adopting white-box switches outfitted with independent network operating systems (NOS).
This is because of the unavailability of a clear market leader, implementation challenges, and concerns regarding service and support that have influenced IT pros towards conventional, branded-box Ethernet switches instead.
However, advancing technology and new support collaborations are making white-box switches an alluring substitute for greenfield deployments and for infrastructure that is being updated to boost the performance of data centers, campuses, and branch offices.
White box switch provides the potential to deploy commodity switches with different NOSes to drive layer 2 and layer 3 network intelligence. The NOS is already installed on the switch or can be bought separately.
White box switching has internally developed networking software and is largely deployed in the data centers of hyper-scale cloud providers like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Others that have already deployed white-box switches with branded NOS software involve giant communication service providers (CSPs) and Tier 2 cloud providers.
Enterprise IT shops must evaluate the advantages offered by white-box switches against their specific use cases. The places where ethernet switches are mostly deployed are campus networks, internal data centers, and at the branch.
Enterprise IT invests more in Ethernet switching on campus in comparison to any other place in the network. White box switches minimize expenses, especially for new office sites or ones that need significant performance upgrades.
Presently, data-center networking is the main use case for white box switches. Like CSPs and hyper-scale cloud providers, enterprise IT pros can get privileges from the less cost of white-box switching, especially when they enhance the speed and capacity of their data center networks to 100GB and more. The reduced prices are advantageous in new data centers or for data centers that need a substantial rise in a performance like a jump from 10 Gbps to 100 Gbps.
The branch office represents the smallest part of the IT spend. Lack of access to trained IT staff limits the IT technology adoption at the branch, and to date, no white-box solution providers have made branch switching applications their target. White box switches can be deployed as more comprehensive SD-Branch solutions’ part.
Starting steadily and identifying explicit business privileges is the best advice for many white-box switching deployments.
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