What is Whitebox switching? To understand the concept of Whitebox switching you first need to understand the anatomy of a switch. Like with Servers, there’s the hardware and then there is the software to control it. Whitebox or White label switching separates the hardware (silicone and components that make up the switch) from the software ( the operating system). By separating these two layers you can easily implement the concept of Software Defined Networking. By relocating the control plane to another piece of hardware known as the Network controller, each switch will no longer need the software. The network controller will handle essentially the operations of each switch in your infrastructure.
With the introduction of software-defined networking, the I.T world will be looking at vendors that provide bare-metal switches to reduce costs. Switches that do not contain the vendor’s software will come at a cheaper cost. Think about it for a second….. When you buy a server, no one forces you to install a specific operating system. The same concept should be applied with switches and should not be vendor-specific.
Benifits of Whitebox Switching?
- Whitebox switching allows you to customise the switch to the business’s needs.
- You are not locked into one vendor and you can avoid OEM shipping delays
- The lower procurement costs allow an organisation to keep spare units in case of hardware failure
- Through the separation of Software and Hardware, organisations can separate their maintenance and support contracts
- These switches are highly programmable which makes them perfect for Software-defined Networking
- They are great if you do not need all the features provided to you by most vendors. You can personally pick and choose which networking capabilities you utilise
- The configuration and programming of switches is made easier
- Organisations that make large scale changes and need flexibility in the way they configure their switch hardware without losing performance will benefit greatly from white-box switching
Software-defined networking and Intent-based networking is the future and by utilising your resources to implement SDN using Whitebox switching instead of paying your big bucks to the larger networking vendors will result in some major benefits.