Pluribus Networks is adding Accton/Edgecore to the list of white-box network switch makers that can run its Linux-based network operating systems.
Pluribus officials announced Sept. 20 that Accton/Edgecore’s AS5712-54X 10 Gigabit Ethernet and AS6712-32X 40GbE white-box switches, which are based on designs from the Facebook-led Open Compute Project (OCP), are now certified to run the vendor’s Open Netvisor Linux (ONLV) distributed switch OS. Through the certification, Accton/Edgecore becomes part of the Pluribus-Certified ecosystem of vendors whose products can run Pluribus’ software.
“The combination of Pluribus Networks’ software and Accton/Edgecore white box hardware offers enterprises a networking fabric that scales to support modern workloads and supports virtualization, converged infrastructures, IoT [internet of things] and containers,” George Tchaparian, CEO of Edgecore Networks, which is part of the Accton Group, said in a statement.
The move to network virtualization technologies has fueled demand for white-box switches, which are made by original design manufacturers (ODMs)—like Accton/Edgecore—using off-the-shelf components and can run a variety of software from third parties. Software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) hold the promise of more programmable, agile, scalable and affordable networks by moving the network control plane and various tasks—including routing, load balancing and firewalls—off of proprietary and expensive hardware and putting them into software that can run on less costly industry-standard systems.
White-box and bare-metal systems give enterprises the option of lower-cost hardware running third-party software, and the idea is resonating in the market. Analysts with IHS last year said that by 2019, such switches will account for almost 25 percent of the data center ports shipped, up from about 11 percent in 2014.
According to Matt Bushell, senior director of product marketing at Pluribus, white-box switch deployments will grow almost 35 percent over 2015 and will account for more than 15 percent of the switch marketplace within two years. That makes sense when considering the cost and flexibility advantages white boxes offer enterprises, Bushell wrote in a recent post on the company blog.
Selling systems compatible with an array of OSes “is advantageous to users that want to treat the purchase of the hardware and software separately, much like they do for x86-based servers today; choosing Dell, Lenovo, HP or any number of white box server offerings,” he wrote. “White box switches are the perfect business and technology choice for modern data center environments. Beyond reducing operating and capital expenses, commodity switches also support a variety of development tools, multiple automation capacities and lets developers focus on networking processes critical to maintaining peak performance. In addition, white box switches can relieve organizational workloads demanding rigorous monitoring practices and elevated availability when the monitoring is built-in to the operating system, as it is with Pluribus.”
Some top-tier OEMs, including Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks, are pushing back at the trend with what Gartner analysts call “brite boxes”—branded systems that can run third-party software and that, while more expensive than white boxes, cost less than traditional branded switches and come with the vendor’s services and support.
Dell officials last year announced that Pluribus’ ONLV OS is among the options the vendor offers customers of its Open Networking systems, including the S6000-ON and S4048-ON switches. Other network software that runs on the Dell open switches comes from such vendors as Midokura, Big Switch Networks and Cumulus Networks.