Big Switch Network Fabric Supports Dell Switches, VMware
Juniper Networks, in December 2014, unveiled the OCX1100 switch, which similarly offers an open design, based on designs from the Open Compute Project, that can run Juniper's own Junos operating system. With their open networking gear, Dell and Juniper are filling a gap between traditional, integrated networking gear from the likes of Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard and low-cost white boxes that bring their own challenges around such issues as support and integration. It's an area that Gartner analysts are calling "brite boxes"—hardware from brand-name companies that come with support but are open to third-party technologies. In a post on the Gartner blog in November 2014, analyst Andrew Lerner said brite-box networks could be disruptive, given that by 2018, 10 percent of data center ports shipped will be nontraditional switching, up from 4 percent last year. "The financial and functional gap between White-Box and traditional switching has opened the door for new approaches and new market entrants," Lerner wrote. "These new approaches aim to 'split the difference' between white-box and traditional switching, making it more palatable to bring hyperscale switching concepts to the mainstream.""There will be an increased shift to branded boxes and brite boxes," he said, pointing to the efforts by Dell and Juniper and noting that for most hardware makers offering open networking gear makes sense. "If you're not Cisco, you don't have much to lose." Under Murray's direction, for more than a year, Big Switch has shifted its focus away from its initial network overlay plans and toward network software running on commodity systems. The move is starting to pay off, he and Holzrichter said. The company has had four consecutive quarters of more than 30 percent growth and now has its first two customer deals worth more than $1 million each.
Big Switch CEO Doug Murray told eWEEK that a growing number of customers are looking for the economics of white boxes, but also want the logo and support that come with branded systems. It's a trend Murray expects to continue to grow.