Navigating the World of Open Networking: Bare Metal, White Box, and Brite Box Switches

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.


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