Pluribus Networks Adds to Whitebox Lineup


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Pluribus Networks announced on Tuesday new hardware certified for its Open Netvisor Linux (ONLV) operating system, designed to run on whitebox switches.

Now, risk-averse channel pros may be ready to stop reading right there, but stay with us. Whitebox hardware has come a long way thanks to improvements in commodity switch silicon, reference hardware designs and open source software. Open Compute Project Platinum members range from AT&T and Rackspace to Facebook and Google, and even Microsoft is in the open switch business with its Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) components to build network devices.

Todd Dalton, Pluribus’ channel director for the western states, argues that the channel is perfectly positioned to bring whitebox switching to mainstream customers.

“Whitebox switches, when combined with enterprise-class operating systems, are simply a better choice for end users,” says Dalton. “And whiteboxes are huge for the channel as they represent true innovation and absolute value, two keys to the channel’s success. Partners who get behind whitebox switches in 2016 will follow the same lucrative path that the server market saw over the past ten years.”{ad}

Paul Cronin, senior vice president of business development at Atrion, points out that even Cisco is now more focused on next-generation software than traditional hardware, and that margins on gear are so low that the calculation is more about function than logo.

“Down the road, it’s whatever box fits the customer’s business need and can deliver a high-performing application securely,” says Cronin.

Solutions providers in the business of selling digital services may also find a better use for money not spent on hardware and traditional licensing. Gartner says organizations using whitebox switches instead of proprietary hardware reduced capital expenditures by 25 to 60 percent, and also cut ongoing maintenance costs by up to 90 percent.

Pluribus says ONLV reduces capex and opex by up to 50 percent over five years and is a good choice for VDI deployments.

ONVL runs on hardware from vendors including Dell and Edgecore and supports Puppet and Ansible and VMware’s vCenter. The newly supported devices are Open Compute Project-certified Accton/Edgecore AS5712 and AS6712 10G/40G whitebox switches. Accton manufactures a range of network switching, wireless and broadband products for HPE (under the Altoline name) and other companies. HP certifies whiteboxes to run its Helion private clouds.

Jim Duffy, a senior analyst with The 451 Group, compares the current whitebox server movement with how Red Hat bundled support and warranty services around Linux, making the open source OS more accepted by CIOs for mission-critical business applications.

“Pluribus Networks is doing the same for the commodity switch marketplace through its new Pluribus-Certified program,” says Duffy. “The program is another indication that technical prowess must be coupled with a comprehensive business and support model in order for enterprises of any size to choose open switching.”

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