Network Disaggregation: Opening The Last Black Box


Most people think of network disaggregation as separating hardware from software, but the story goes deeper than that. While hardware and software separation are a big part of the SDN concept, there is also disaggregation of network switch ASICs. There are five switch ASIC manufacturers in the market and each product has different strengths and weaknesses. These ASICs represent the final “black box” that must be opened before we can truly achieve disaggregation.

The concept of software-defined networking is often described as  based on open, interoperable systems that can be customized for each application, and that deliver services through policy-driven architecture. With a policy-driven network, for example, service providers can implement self-service customer portals where customers can dial up the desired amount of bandwidth.

One way to implement  SDN is by  unlocking several “black boxes” that previously limited networking to a one-size-fits-all approach obtained from vendors like Arista, Cisco and Juniper. Opening each “black box” results in giving customers more choice about how they tune the network for their specific applications.

The first “black box” was the hardware. Once available only from big-name hardware vendors, servers and switches became available directly from the same original design manufacturers (ODMs) who supplied the big vendors. Suddenly vendors like Accton, Agema, and Quanta began offering “white box” servers and switches with lower prices.

Read more at Network Computing.