Forrester analyst Andre Kindness has used two very significant words - “irrational exuberance” - to describe the white box networking market.
“Irrational exuberance” was famously used by former US Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan in a 1996 speech bemoaning over-valued assets. The term was often invoked during the subsequent deflation of the 1990's dotcom bubble.
For an industry analyst to use the term is therefore noteworthy: Kindness can't be unaware of what he's invoking in his post, White Box Mania Distracts Everyone And Wreaks Havoc On Investments.
Kindness' argument is that in their ardour to offer a white box product, networking vendors are failing to focus on their core products and mainstream needs.
While white box network solutions provide great value for some industries, more than likely, they are not for your infrastructure but for specific industries such as web scale or high-frequency trading companies,” he writes. “Some uncertain vendors are placing chips on all the squares of the network roulette table; this strategy is a losing proposition for everyone.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he continues, “White boxes/bare-metal solutions have their place, but be cautious of the irrational exuberance over this new trend. Resources are finite. The vendors chasing tail lights will at some point have to give up and lock down on a particular path.”
Some vendors get this, he says, with Arista, Aruba, Motorola and Aerohive doing well, because they “are being selective on a few industries or areas to help customers get more value out of their network investments.” But he worries about others and refers readers to activist investor Elliott Management's worries about Juniper.
He suggests you “ … should be concerned about solutions existing a year or two down the road from shotgun-approach vendors; worse yet, you get the effects of a mile-wide, inch-deep investment, which means the solution lags on getting the investments needed to help your company succeed today.”
In other words, white box networking may be a distraction vendors think they need to grow, but you probably don't in order to improve garden-variety networks.
Ain't a bandwagon a grand thing? ®