GigaOm radar for network operating systems


  1. Summary
  2. Market Categories and Deployment Types
  3. Comparison of key criteria
  4. Radar GigaOm
  5. Supplier Information
  6. Analyst’s point of view
  7. About Chris Grundemann


Cloud-native architectures, new merchant silicon, and “open networking” deliver the agility, flexibility, resiliency, and scalability of networking for those brave enough to take advantage of innovative new technology stacks and disaggregated promising a massive leap in performance at the lowest possible cost. . At the center are Linux-based network operating systems (NOS) running on bare-metal servers and switches using merchant silicon.

With the focus on routing rather than data center switching, the NOS landscape is rapidly changing. Traditional incumbents are reinventing themselves through acquisitions, alliances and shifts to “open” architectures. Open source initiatives leverage contributed code and the collective power of communities to drive innovation. Finally, new players are emerging with disruptive and cloud-native approaches, significant financial backing, and leading early adopters.

This report provides an overview of the vendor landscape based on the following table stakes, which are mature and stable solution features common to all vendors:

  • Bare metal: A bare metal server or switch comes without software, allowing the network stack to be decoupled to implement hybrid network architectures incorporating best-of-breed technologies. The bare-metal switches use merchant silicon and come with Open Network Install Environment (ONIE), a bootloader from the Open Compute Project, facilitating zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) of the NOS of choice. Some cloud-native vendors offer virtualized or containerized versions for greater agility, flexibility, and scalability.
  • Disaggregated: Disaggregated routing and switching allows network architects to optimally combine best-in-class hardware and software to meet the needs of a given use case. This report only covers network operating systems that can be purchased independently of hardware. However, it is important to note that in addition to making their product available as a standalone NOS running on bare-metal servers or switches, some traditional network vendors include it as part of a network appliance. fully integrated owner.
  • Autonomous : Although the architecture and deployment process vary, each NOS included in this report is a stand-alone solution and does not require third-party components. Each can be installed on a bare metal server or switch and operate with built-in control and management plane functionality. Although additional options for analysis, management and telemetry may be mentioned as complementary offers from the supplier, they are not necessary for the operation of the NOS.

Based on these table stakes, NOS such as Internet Operating System (IOS) from Cisco, JunOS from Juniper and ONYX from NVIDIA are not included as they, although disaggregated, are sold and taken only supported on associated vendor equipment. Vendors such as Dell EMC were also excluded because they either have a proprietary NOS or support an open source solution such as SONiC (which is hosted by Open Compute Project and described in this section). Although open and disaggregated, the Open Networking Foundation’s (ONF) two NOS offerings, ONOS and Stratum, are not stand-alone and therefore not covered.

Note: If you are aware of a NOS that meets the table issues but is not included in this report, please email GigaOm and let us know.

Finally, it is important to note that in addition to the important projects hosted by the Open Compute Project (OCP), the Open Networking Foundation, and the Linux Foundation, several other organizations are shaping the direction and evolution of disaggregated networks.

The most important of these is the Telecom Infra (TIP) project. Formed by Facebook in 2016, TIP is a global community of companies and organizations working together to accelerate the development of open, disaggregated, standards-based networking solutions spanning three strategic areas: access, base and transportation. Many of the world’s largest network service providers, as well as most of the ODM, merchant silicon, and NOS vendors mentioned in this report, are members of TIP.

When reading this report, please do so with an open mind. Driven by the demand for flexibility, performance and scalability, coupled with cost effectiveness, the vendor landscape and NOS offerings are changing rapidly. We recommend using this report to create a shortlist of vendors that support your target market, deployment model, and use case. Then contact the relevant vendors for additional information on features and costs.

For more information on choosing a network operating system, please read the report “Key Criteria for Evaluating Network Operating Systems: An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers”, published by GigaOm.

How to read this report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that help IT organizations evaluate competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a better understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Report on key criteria: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on high-end solution characteristics, such as scalability, performance, and total cost of ownership, which drive purchasing decisions.

GigaOm radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions across multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the industry.

Supplier profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that leverages the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s commitment to a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking advice regarding both strategy and product.

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