With the higher and higher demand for network agility and scalability, traditional networking has been no longer satisfying. In that case, the open source network has been an urgent need. To meet with this new trend, here comes our open switch, a great contributor to the open networking.
What Is Open Switch?
Open switches refer to switches in which the hardware and software are separate components that can be changed independently of each other. That means you will gain more flexibility to tailor your own network switch. Conventionally, the open source switch in the market can mainly be classified into the bare metal switch, white box switch, and brite box switch.
Figure 1：Open Switch
The open hardware means the hardware of an open switch can support multiple operating systems (OS). This is in contrast to closed switches, in which the hardware and software are always purchased together. For example, if you buy a Juniper EX or MX you also buy JUNOS; if you buy a Cisco Catalyst switch you buy IOS. However, things will be different with open switches. In the context of that, no matter which type of open source switch you are using, it’s possible to support many operating systems instead of a proprietary one. By the way, the hardware manufacturers of the open switch are primarily Taiwanese, including Accton, Quanta QCT, Alpha Networks, and Delta Computer. These same companies are original design manufacturers (ODMs) for many of the mainstream switch vendors.
Figure 2: Open Hardware
The open software signifies that an OS can be run on multiple hardware configurations. As we mentioned before, you don’t need to buy an OS from the original brand of your switch hardware. For example, if you have Cumulus Linux, you can buy a layer 3 switch without a brand label. They still work well with each other. In the past, most people have no choice but to use brite box switch that integrates OS and hardware of branded suppliers. Now, with an open switch software, choices and economic efficiency will be largely expanded and improved. Generally, there are three popular open softwares in the market: Cumulus Linux, IP Infusion OcNOS and Pica8 PICOS.
Figure 3: Cumulus Linux Software
Why Choose Open Switch?
- With an open source switch, more flexibility, and options can be enjoyed. There is no need to configure your switch as in the past or wait for vendors to release new software or hardware.
- It brings the open source network to operators, enterprises, third-party vendors and network users, accelerates the innovation speed of new services and functions of the network deployment, and takes users closer to SDN (software-defined network) and NFV (network functions virtualization).
- The network simplicity and reliability can be improved through the automated centralized network device management, unified deployment strategies, and fewer configuration errors.
- The network flexibility and scalability have been greatly increased, which will also save much cost and time for IT workers and enterprises.
In this post, we make an exploration of the open switch. From the introduction to its hardware, software, and benefits, we can understand why the open switch has been a great facilitator for open networking.