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White box switches out-sell Brocade, Arista in the data centre

This software-defined-networking caper may have legs

Analyst outfit Gartner has noticed something interesting: white box switches destined for the data centre outsold both Brocade and Arista in 2013.

Gartner's data covers 1G/10G/40G/100G port shipments and revenue. Counting sales of those sorts found market share for the blank boxen was 3.8 per cent, on sales of 1.8 million ports. That last figure is “roughly the same number of 10G ports that Juniper shipped,” Gartner's mages say.

Most of the white box switches are going to web-scale operators and telcos, which is to be expected. It also shows that software-defined networking, which has been pitched at the very largest network operators, is hitting the mark.

Gartner's not sure which software-defined networking software is running on all those ports, but it suspects the likes of Cumulus, Big Switch, and Pica8 are doing alright.

The rise of white-box switching even has the analyst firm considering some research on what it has decided to call “gray-box switching”, the mainstream enterprise version of this trend that delivers “white-box switching concepts delivered in a way more palatable to the mainstream”.

The likes of Dell are already there: the newly-re-privatised company already allows its switches to be driven by third-party software.

And Cisco? Gartner says its market share of over 50 per cent, which is “more than 2X the next five vendors, combined*”, which means Arista, Brocade and Juniper are well and truly eating Cisco's dust. If white-box switching takes off, they could be relegated from chasers to roadkill.®

* Gartner's italics.

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