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Hewlett-Packard has launched a new line of open network switches adding to the growing assortment of white box components geared to the software-defined networking (SDN) trend.

HP said its new line of open network switches for the data center will provide Web scale organizations and service providers more flexibility and control of their data center networks to power cloud, mobile, social media and big data workloads. HP will deliver these new network switches to Web scale data center customers through partnerships with Accton Technology Corporation and Cumulus Networks.

The two new open network switches enable 10G/40G spine and 10G leaf data center deployments. Both switches will be available with Cumulus Linux OS and offer zero-touch OS installation using an open network install environment loader.

In the second half of 2015, HP will expand the line to include 25G/50G/100G switches for higher performance Web scale data centers and 1G switches to address unique customer needs. HP will also expand the hardware and OS software choices to meet emerging customer requirements.

The products are among the first in the industry in the emerging new category of branded white box switches, known as brite box switches.

Gartner has described brite box switches as a new category that takes combines some characteristics of branded switches and white box switches. The research firm said this new category has the potential to become a disruptive trend that can provide greater value for enterprise customers.

The majority of mainstream organizations use traditional, integrated switches from vendors such as Cisco, Arista, Juniper and HP, according to Andrew Lerner, research director for Gartner.

Nearly all mainstream organizations use traditional (integrated) switches from vendors like Cisco, HP, Arista and Juniper, he said in a recent blog.

White box switching refers to using generic, off-the-shelf switching and routing hardware in the forward plane of SDN. This enables organizations to cut networking cost and allows them to choose the components they need for their SDN strategy rather than be locked to a single vendor.

However, Lerner said, white box adoption has been so far limited to hyperscale cloud providers.

Brite box “splits the difference” between traditional and white box methods making hyperscale switching available to mainstream companies.

Some of the brite box methods Lerner outlined are:

  • Network switching vendors that allow their softwareto run on white-box hardware
  • Network switching vendors that allow other vendors’ software to run on their hardware
  • Infrastructure software vendors certifying hardware switches and providing the networking software/OS
  • Systems integrators combining switching hardware and software and providing these to end-user organizations


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