ON.Lab Unveils Open-Source SDN OS
The key for ON.Labs will be getting traction in the market, which will lead to integration and engineering, according to Current Analysis' Fratto. Carriers tend to get their equipment from multiple sources to avoid vendor lock-in, and to run their systems for many years. Open-source software can help address some of those issues, he said. The need for an ecosystem of integrated products is what is driving the push around open source in SDN, Fratto said. "You can't really sell an SDN product in isolation," Fratto said. "Whether you're talking about the service provider market or enterprise, the important part of SDN is 'software.' That means software integration with other IT subsystems. Without that, it's just another networking technology with limited value." John Fruehe, an analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, told eWEEK that carriers and enterprises are looking to SDN to help them cut capital and operating expenses that come with proprietary networking systems from the likes of Cisco and Juniper Networks. However, he is unsure whether white-box makers will see a significant boon from the push for SDN and open source.Fruehe also cautioned against expecting that virtualizing the networking infrastructure and leveraging lower-cost commodity hardware will be as straightforward as virtualizing servers and storage systems. "Server and storage are endpoints," he said. "Networking is the mesh that ties them together. End points can be isolated pretty easily."
Large Web companies like Google and Facebook have the IT resources to leverage white boxes in their data centers, Fruehe said. However, while mainstream enterprises want to lower their costs and improve their networking agility, they also want the support and accountability that comes with dealing with top vendors. The happy medium between their current legacy infrastructures and white boxes is what most businesses are looking to find, he said.