At STORDIS, our mission is to help businesses build efficient, scalable, and reliable network infrastructures. In the realm of open networking, several options are available, including Bare Metal, White Box, and Brite Box switches. While all of these options are “open,” they each have unique characteristics. In this blog post, I will objectively explain the key differences between these three types of switches and share my personal preference at the end.

Disaggregation in Networking

Disaggregation refers to the separation of hardware and software components, allowing businesses to choose the best combination for their unique needs. This approach optimizes network infrastructure for performance, cost, and flexibility. At STORDIS, we help businesses aggregate these disaggregated components, creating tailored solutions that perfectly fit their requirements.

Bare Metal Switches

Bare Metal switches are open switches without any network operating system (NOS) included. Businesses purchase the hardware and then choose the NOS that best supports their applications or operational environment. Some of the major Bare Metal manufacturers include Accton, Foxconn, Quanta QCT, Alpha Networks, Delta Computer, and Celestica. These companies produce high-quality hardware that can be customized to your heart’s content.

White Box Switches

White Box switches are open switches that come with an NOS installed. They are not fully integrated like “black box” switches, meaning the hardware and NOS can be managed independently. Essentially, businesses are purchasing a bundled solution consisting of a Bare Metal switch and an NOS. Examples of such solutions include IP Infusion‘s IPI Pro (Edgecore hardware and IPI OcNOS software) and IPI Fast (UFI Space hardware and IPI OcNOS software) or Pluribus’ Freedom offer (Pluribus Network today under Arista).

Brite Box Switches

Brite Box switches, or BRanded whITE box switches, are open switches with a pre-installed NOS and a brand name, such as for example Dell (who in fact has a really strong portfolio for Data Center, Enterprise and Campus market). These switches are typically made by Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) that also produce Bare Metal switches. A Brite Box switch may be the same as the ODM’s Bare Metal switch but features a branded front bezel.


Choosing the Right Switch

Understanding the differences between Bare Metal, White Box, and Brite Box switches will help businesses make informed decisions when selecting the best option for their network infrastructure. Factors such as budget, performance requirements, and preferred level of customization will influence the choice.

My Personal Preference and Background

Before joining STORDIS, I had the opportunity to work at Edgecore Networks (part of Accton Technology), an open networking leader. Based on my experience, I developed a personal preference for Bare Metal switches. They offer simplicity and flexibility, enabling businesses to create tailored solutions that cater to their unique networking needs. By separating hardware and software components, businesses have the freedom to choose the best possible combination, optimizing for cost and performance.

At STORDIS, we are dedicated to helping businesses navigate the world of open networking and find the ideal solution to meet their needs. As an Open Networking (humble…) Expert, I take pride in assisting organizations in aggregating the disaggregated, building robust and efficient network infrastructures. If you’re considering an open networking solution, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts.

I hope you found this blog post informative and helpful. If you did, please feel free to like, share, and follow our social media channels for more content like this. I will continue to share insights and knowledge about the open networking industry in future blog posts. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to discuss your networking needs, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. Together, we can find the best open networking solution for your business.

Additionally, I am excited to offer a free course called “Unboxing Open Networking” under the route2open academia. This course is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to Open Networking, covering its history, key organizations, etc. etc. By the end of the course, you will understand what disaggregation is, the benefits of Open Networking, and how it compares to traditional networking approaches.

I invite all interested tech enthusiasts to join our course and delve deeper into the world of Open Networking. To enroll in the course, simply visit the following link: R2O-UON – Unboxing Open Networking. Together, we can find the best open networking solution for your business and shape the future of this revolutionary technology.

Stuttgart, Germany – February 13th, 2023  – STORDIS – The Open Networking Expert – is pleased to announce that they have signed a Support Service Agreement with Edgecore on Enterprise SONiC Distribution By Edgecore.

Enterprise SONiC Distribution by Edgecore is a hardened, open distribution of SONiC which runs on Edgecore Open Networking switches. The SONiC Community is led by Microsoſt and many key players, including Edgecore, to deliver a robust and proven software infrastructure to enable customers to build highly portable, scalable data center networks.

At STORDIS, we have extensive knowledge and experience with delivering Enterprise SONiC solutions. Our team is well versed in SONiC and can provide expert advice and guidance when it comes to the deployment and management of SONiC-based networks. Our support engineers offer the following services:

  • Level 1 – Basic help desk resolution and service desk delivery

Support for basic customer issues such as solving usage problems and fulfilling service desk requests that need IT involvement.

  • Level 2 – In-depth SONiC technical support

Experienced and knowledgeable engineers assess issues and provide solutions.

  • Level 3 – Expert product and services support

For those really serious technical issues that cannot be resolved via Level 1 & 2 support, our STORDIS engineers have access to the most highly skilled product specialists – these may include the creators, chief architects or engineers that created the product – to duplicate problems, define root causes and issue fixes.

STORDIS is excited to be working with Edgecore to offer Enterprise SONiC Distribution By Edgecore to our customers. This collaboration will help us provide the best experience possible for our customers and ensure that they can get the most out of their network… said Waldemar Scheck, CEO of STORDISWe are thrilled to be working with Edgecore to create the Route2open Academy and provide the official on-line course for Enterprise SONiC. This will help customers gain the knowledge and skills they need to take full advantage of SONiC.

Waldemar Scheck, CEO, STORDIS

Want to Learn More About it?

Get in touch with us and we will answer all of your questions.

Contact Us

Secure your tickets now for the 2023 OCP Regional Summit and be part of an incredible event filled with networking, collaboration, and learning opportunities! Held from 1920 April at the stunning Prague Congress Centre, the summit will bring together EMEA technical and business leaders from the OCP Community to discuss important topics such as data center sustainability and hyperscale DC operator innovations. This is your chance to dig deep into the world of open technologies and approaches, led by industry experts and facilitated by panel discussions, workshops, and presentations.

Plus, dont forget to visit STORDIS booth A1 at the summit were giving away a GIFT voucher with promo code for Enterprise SONiC training. 

Join STORDIS OCP Workshop

In a few short years, SONiC has become one of the major players in the fields of data centers and hyper-scalers and is now poised to become just as dominant in the telcos, enterprises and SMBs domain. Join STORDIS as they introduce the benefits of using SONiC as your NOS of choice in the enterprise environment. STORDIS will highlight the differences between SONiC vs Enterprise SONiC, will guide you through the initial steps of installation, manual & automatic configuration options, and how you can monitor your network using the opensource solution MONSOON. They have guests from Deutsche Telekom, who have already made the jump to using SONiC, to talk about their experience. Technical experts from Broadcom and Weaveworks will be on hand to discuss a specific end-to-end observability solution for drop monitoring, explain how the community can take advantage of open-source collector software and how GitOps principles can be applied to networking enabling self-service and on-demand change for platform users without sacrificing efficiency or security. They look forward to seeing you there! 

Our Agenda:

  • STORDIS will show you how to boost your Network with “How to go superSONiC with Your Network Infrastructure!”
  • Deutsche Telekom will show how they moved their datacentres to SONiC with “Implementing SONiC Architecture within Multi VRF Datacenters”
  • STORDIS will show how to use MONSOON for “Monitoring and Telemetry”
  • Broadcom will demonstrate how Root Cause Analysis and de-bugging can be done with “Leveraging Silicon Enabled Observability with Open Source Collector to improve your MTTI”
  • STORDIS will guide you through the initial setup stages with “Not again, something new? Getting started with Open networking and SONiC”
  • Weaveworks will then discuss larger Networks with “Gitops for Networking – Orchestration at Scale”

This is your chance to explore:

Don’t miss out on this chance to build relationships and make a real impact in the world of open networking!

Stop by STORDIS’ booth A1 at the OCP’s Regional Summit and claim your GIFT Voucher with promo code for Enterprise SONiC training!

OCP Regional Summit 2023

Open Compute Project Foundation helps organizations unlock their potential by leveraging the benefits of open technologies and approaches. OCP’s Regional Summit is a great opportunity to learn from industry experts and network with other professionals in the field while learning from the speakers, presentations, panel discussions, and workshops at the event. You won’t want to miss this chance to impact the future of data center design, operations, and deployment. Get ready for two days of networking and collaboration with like-minded professionals from across the globe. Be part of this great event by registering for your ticket today!

Looking forward to meeting you there!

In recent years, the networking industry has seen a major shift towards open networking and the use of disaggregated hardware and software. This new approach to networking offers a range of benefits compared to traditional, closed networking solutions. However, like any new technology, open networking also has its pros and cons, and it’s important to understand these before making a decision about whether or not to switch to this new approach. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits, pros, and cons of open networking, and what it means for network professionals and organizations.

What is Open Networking?

Open Networking is a new approach to networking that separates the hardware and software components of networking devices. Unlike traditional networking solutions, which are often tied to a specific vendor and operating system, open networking allows organizations to choose the hardware and software that best fits their needs. This separation of hardware and software is called “disaggregation”.

Benefits of Open Networking

The benefits of open networking are many, and can greatly improve the operation, management, and monitoring of a network. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Flexibility: One of the biggest benefits of open networking is the flexibility it provides. Organizations can choose the hardware and software that best fits their needs, without being tied to a specific vendor or operating system. This allows for more innovation and rapid pace of software development, as well as the ability to choose the best hardware for specific requirements.
  • Scalability: Open networking provides the ability to scale from small to hyperscale networks, as the network grows with the organization. This scalability is achieved through the use of standard, un-coded internal components and the ability to choose the right hardware and software for specific requirements.
  • Simplified Architecture: Open networking enables organizations to build flexible and agile network topologies, by using a simplified architecture – most of the time so called CLOS based on Spine and Leaf switches.
  • Greater Agility: Open networking provides greater agility, as organizations can create specific flows to control their environment.
  • Reusability: Open networking also provides the ability to reusethe hardware platform for other purposes. And this is really great – so for example if your bare-metal switch is powerful enough you can change the OS and use it as the load-balancer, aggregator or packet broker.
  • Greener: Open networking is also a greener solution, as it provides improved energy efficiency through the use of automated configurations, rollouts, and operations. Additionally, open networking is based on the latest and greatest chipsets and CPUs, which are always reducing power consumption and increasing performance with each new generation.
  • Automation: Open networking provides automation, freeing up time for network professionals. This is achieved through the use of standard components and the ability to choose the best hardware and software for specific requirements.
  • Lower Cost: Finally, open networking can provide up to 50% CapEx savings, compared to traditional networking solutions. This is accomplished through the utilization of hardware sourced directly from the original manufacturers and software that could be either open source or commercially produced, tailored specifically to your requirements – you will only be paying for what you need.

Pros of Open Networking

  • Freedom from Vendor Lock-in: One of the biggest pros of open networking is the freedom it provides from vendor lock-in. Organizations can choose the hardware and software that best fits their needs, without being tied to a specific vendor or operating system.
  • Control: Open networking provides organizations with the ability of control over their network, giving them the ability to decide how their network operates and what is important for their business. This control is achieved through the use of standard components and the ability to choose the best hardware and software for specific requirements.
  • Innovation: Open networking allows for rapid innovation and development of new features and functions which accelerates operations and new revenue streams.

Cons of Open Networking

  • Lack of Integration: One of the biggest cons of open networking is the lack of integration between hardware and software components. Organizations must ensure that their hardware and software components are compatible with each other, and they may need to spend time and resources to ensure that this compatibility is achieved.
  • Complexity: Open networking can also be complex, and organizations must be prepared to invest time and resources in order to understand and implement this new approach to networking. This complexity is due to the need to choose and integrate hardware and software components, as well as the need to manage and monitor the network.
  • Support: Another con of open networking is the lack of support for some components, particularly open-source components. Organizations may need to rely on community support for these components, and they must be prepared to invest time and resources in order to ensure that their network is properly supported.

To address the cons of open networking, organizations can take the following steps:

  • Ensure Hardware and Software Compatibility: Organizations must conduct thorough research and select hardware and software components that are compatible with each other. They can also seek the help of vendor partners or industry experts to ensure compatibility between their hardware and software.
  • Invest in Network Professionals’ Training: To deal with the intricacies of open networking, organizations should invest in training and education for their network professionals. This may include attending training courses, workshops, and conferences, as well as accessing industry publications and online resources.
  • Consider Commercial Solutions for Support: To mitigate the lack of support for some open-source components, organizations can explore commercial solutions that offer continuous support and testing. These commercial solutions can provide assurance and guarantee that the network is appropriately supported.
  • Cultivate a Strong Community: To overcome the lack of support for some open-source components, organizations can establish a strong community of users and contributors. This community can provide necessary support and resources, and can assist organizations in maximizing their open networking solution.
  • Collaborate with Vendor Partners: To address the complexity of open networking, organizations can work with vendor partners who can deliver support, consultation, and implementation services. These vendors can help organizations in deploying and managing their open networking solution, and can ensure that the network is properly supported.

How Traditional Networking compares to Open Networking?

Traditional Networking vs Open Networking

One of the biggest differences between traditional and open networking is the level of freedom and choice organizations have:

  • Network Control – Full control at the network vendor versus full control in the hands of the organization
  • Knowledge to Operate the Network – Special vendor certification required versus only basic Linux knowledge required
  • Cost Transparency – Hidden costs on additional software, training, mandatory certification, etc. versus full transparency upfront, with free and open-source community tools also available
  • User Interface – Manageable via custom, vendor-specific CLI versus easily manageable via CLI or shell – learn once, use everywhere
  • Migration & Upgrade – Future migration or upgrades limited, due to proprietary protocols – locked to the vendor versus easy and fast migration to anywhere, thanks to open protocols
  • Hardware Reusability – Limited reusability versus the possibility to flexibly repurpose old hardware and make it into a switch, router, SDN solution, load balancer, aggregator, or packet broker
  • Time Consumption – Time-consuming and tedious workflows and tasks versus automated operation workflows that free up time and resources
  • Energy – Energy-hungry solutions versus greener and smarter solutions through network stack offloads and automation (e.g., does the whole network need to run all the time, even on the weekend?)

Open Networking offers organizations a greater flexibility, scalability, and control over their network. With open networking, organizations can choose the best hardware and software for their specific needs and take advantage of the many benefits it provides, including greener solutions, cost-effectiveness, and automation.

However, transitioning to open networking can be complex and requires careful planning and preparation. To ensure a successful transition, organizations should assess their networking needs, research hardware and software components, choose a vendor partner, invest in network professionals’ training, and implement automation.

I recommend that organizations take advantage of the many benefits of open networking and consider switching from traditional networking solutions. The first step in the transition process is to assess your organization’s networking needs and research the available hardware and software components. From there, you can choose a partner who can provide support, consultation, and implementation services, invest in network professionals’ training, and implement automation to streamline your network operations.

Don’t wait any longer to take advantage of the benefits of open networking. Start your transition today and see the positive impact it can have on your organization. Contact me directly to get started.