As Cloud technology evolves (to implement most functions in software), what we need from the networking equipment is simplicity, reliability and high-performance. That is the reason the largest data centers in the world have embraced the whitebox model, based on merchant silicon.
This new industry trend reduces the hardware cost, provides higher performance boxes, reduces development time, and allows vendors to focus on software differentiation.
Given the huge success of merchant silicon, many traditional hardware vendors have switched from proprietary chips, enabling a bigger landscape of network equipment manufacturers.
Complementing the whitebox / merchant silicon trend, the “network disaggregation” concept emerged to allow different manufacturers to provide different components of a single network equipment, in a way that every vendor focuses on providing the component in which they are more specialized.
The most basic network disaggregation model consists of a manufacturer providing the hardware, and a different one providing the Network Operating System (NOS), while other more complex models can consist of many manufacturers providing different cards and modules, models that have proved to provide both innovation and cost-efficiency.
Today, we can find new hardware manufacturers, all based in the same, merchant-silicon chipsets.
…as well as many Network Operating System (NOS) manufacturers, with different feature sets for different use cases: