Should You Choose A Generic Networking Solution?

 In Network

Generic medicines deliver health without expensive branding. In IT, commodity hardware is the equivalent of those generics. For networks, the commodity, generic hardware has arrived in the form of white box switches.

White Box Switching

White box switches use generic switching and routing hardware to implement a software defined network. Their operating system, often a Linux variant, integrates with Layer 2/Layer 3 topology to support networking features. They may also come with additional software or may be provided as a bare metal device that businesses can customize.

Although the white box itself is no-name, the names on the hardware and chips inside the box are those of respected manufacturers that supply hardware to networking device manufactures like Cisco. A few years ago, white box switches offered limited speed and capacity, but today’s white box switches come in a range of capabilities to meet most business needs.

White Box Switching Benefits

Giving up a big name on the outside of the box can mean giving up some features, but there are benefits as well. To start with, they cost less than the equivalent brand-name switch and are well-suited to use in branch locations, which can add up to significant savings.

White box switching can also speed up projects that were dependent on vendors meeting delivery dates. Multiple sources of these devices means fewer delays. It also means there’s no vendor lock in.

Managing a non-standard white box used to be challenging, but as Linux becomes more widespread, the necessary expertise is more available, as well.

Where to Use White Box Switches

While white box switches can help anywhere, there are certain scenarios that they’re particularly applicable to. The network edge, including cloud, internet of things devices, and branch offices, is a source of increased traffic and white box switching is a cost-effective approach to addressing that demand.

White box switches can also enable a streamlined, leaf-spine network topology rather than the usual three tier model. This can result in fewer connections and better performance.

Careful Network Design Leverages Appropriate Technologies

Introducing white box switches should be part of a thought-out network strategy that places the new devices carefully in order to achieve the benefits. Prescient Solutions provides comprehensive network services from designing a network that delivers the performance you need to providing ongoing maintenance and support. Our team of certified experts identifies and implements appropriate, cost-effective technology solutions. Contact us if you need to rethink your network.

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