It seems a lot of companies are excited about the possibilities of whitebox networking. This applies not just to inside the data center, but outside as edge devices as well. I’ve never really considered that as a possibility. Kevin Myers outlines a bit of the history of whitebox networking, and what he’s seeing to convince him that they’re rapidly moving to the edge.
I saw Barefoot Networks at Networking Field Day last week. And the primary takeaway I got was how hard it is to design a standard network switch, and ASICs in general. What I never realized was the latency involved in this process, which is kind of funny for networking equipment. They laid out the problem as enterprise customers go to the network equipment companies and ask for a feature. If it’s a big customer or enough people ask for it, the equipment folks need to go to their software team to see how they are going to implement this, then go to their ASIC team to have this designed into their hardware. After all this time (often several years), the equipment maker then produces the switch. This equipment is now many years delayed from when that feature was needed, which is now locked into the hardware, and enters a completely different networking landscape. Barefoot Networks totally rethinks this idea.