Definition

white box switch

Contributor(s): Michelle McNickle

A white box switch is a network switch that is assembled from standardized commodityparts. 

A white box switch runs on off-the-shelf chips. Although white box switches do not have as many features as proprietary switches, they tend to be less expensive and just as fast, which make them an attractive alternative to brand name switches. (In marketing, the label white box is used to describe products that do not carry a brand name.) 

A white box switch may come pre-loaded with minimal software or it may be sold as a bare metal device. The advantage of this approach is that switches can be customized to meet an organization's specific business and networking needs.  White box switches are often used in software-defined networking (SDN), an approach to networking in which control is decoupledfrom the physical infrastructure. In an SDN environment, white box switches can be programmed to use the OpenFlowprotocol or another southbound API to create routing tables and route connections. Because they are so flexible, white box switches can also be used to support a wide range of open source management tools, including OpenStack, Puppet, and Chef.

 

 

 

 

This was last updated in July 2014

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