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SDN blogs: How white box networking saves money

In this week's blogs, experts explain why white box networking costs less, and the differences between SD-WAN and WAN optimization.

SDN bloggers recently broke down why white box networking costs less, and detailed the differences between SD-WAN and WAN optimization. Also, one expert says there is no such thing as a software-defined networking (SDN) or network functions virtualization (NFV) market.

Why you pay less for white box networking gear

Many IT companies are now developing branded products to run on bare-metal hardware, resulting in what industry pros refer to as "whitebrand" or white box networking gear. In a recent post on his "Ethereal Mind Blog," networking expert Greg Ferro explains why vendors price such products lower than their traditional branded counterparts, taking into account upfront investment, length of development cycle and barriers to market entry.

Rather than re-creating the wheel, large companies can significantly reduce their product development costs by building on merchant silicon and open source software. Because they have invested less money in the development process, they then have the option to set prices competitively low, while still making a profit.

Ferro also explains that the longer the product development cycle, the more companies spend on interest, labor and secondary costs -- with the long development cycles associated with traditional networking gear requiring enormous amounts of capital. Using branded white boxes and open source software shortens the cycle, saving money and lowering the risk that a product will lose relevance by the time it reaches shelves. Ferro adds that the white box switch market supports large production volumes, which brings down per-unit costs.

Finally, Ferro writes that white box hardware and merchant silicon lower the barrier to market entry by allowing small startups to get off the ground with relatively little capital. Typically, more competitors in a marketplace lead to lower overall prices.

Read Ferro's entire post here.

SD-WAN is not WAN optimization

In a recent post on his blog, "Ethan Banks on Networking," Ethan Banks discusses the difference between a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and WAN optimization. He says the two are related, yet have slightly different goals. SD-WAN abstracts network intelligence to dynamically combine multiple links into one overlay network -- often a hybrid WAN -- with the software deciding which connection to use for specific applications at any given time. WAN optimization, on the other hand, tries to make the most of available bandwidth to maximize application performance, regardless of whether a network is virtualized or has more than one kind of link.

Banks adds that, contrary to popular belief, the two technologies can exist apart from one another. WAN optimization can function independently of any SD-WAN technology and customers can have an SD-WAN without WAN optimization.

Read Banks' entire post and learn what he thinks lies ahead for the WAN optimization market here.

The trouble with SDN and NFV market forecasts

On the "Gartner Blog," network analyst Joe Skorupa explains why Gartner will not release Magic Quadrant market forecast reports for SDN and NFV: SDN and NFV markets don't exist. Skorupa writes that a market forecast predicts the future sales of goods and services, and SDN and NFV are neither -- the former is an architectural approach and the latter is an option for deployment.

Products -- such as Ethernet switches -- can support an SDN architecture, but that doesn't make them part of an SDN market, just as virtual LAN (VLAN) tagging doesn't make those same switches part of the VLAN market.

Skorupa says NFV is a network service -- like an application delivery controller-- in which the software is disaggregated from the hardware. In other words, NFV is a way to deploy a firewall, but it is not itself the firewall.

Ultimately, according to Skorupa, SDN and NFV may influence activity in specific product markets, but don't themselves warrant standalone market forecasts.

Read more about SDN and NFV right here.

Next Steps

Do you need white box switches in the enterprise?

Pair SDN and NFV to fully integrate network components

What are the differences between WAN optimization, virtualization and aggregation?

Dig Deeper on Network automation and orchestration

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