Amazon, Facebook, Google account for bulk of the white box data center Ethernet switch deployments

According to a report by Crehan Research, three of the largest hyperscale cloud providers account for the bulk of white box data center Ethernet shipments.

It's probably no surprise that Amazon, Google and Facebook combined to exceed two-thirds of the total 2018 annual volumes for data center Ethernet switch shipments.

Overall, white box data center Ethernet shipments had a robust increase last year to exceed 20% of the total annual volumes, but subtracting Amazon, Google and Facebook drives that number down to 7%, according to Crehan Research.

"Although there seems to be a fair amount of tire-kicking, pilot projects and evaluations of white box-class data center switching, its overall adoption outside of three of the largest hyperscale cloud service providers has, so far, remained a relatively modest portion of overall data center switching," said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research, in a statement. "Furthermore, the branded Ethernet switch vendors now offer customers what once was generally attainable only from white box switch deployments, including disaggregated open networking, programmability and significant price reductions."

Crehan Research said the lines between branded and white box class data switching are continuing to blur. To wit:

• The hyperscale internet service provider Tencent is using Cisco's merchant silicon-based Nexus 34180YC Ethernet switch with the SONiC operating system in its data centers.

• Arista has jointly developed its most recent data center switch (the 7368X4) with Facebook, which had historically worked with white box-class vendors such as Accton/Edgecore and Celestica, where the data center switch design was solely by Facebook.

• Branded Ethernet switch vendors, such as Dell EMC, Juniper and Mellanox, offer disaggregated hardware and software solutions to deliver more flexibility and openness to data center networking customers.

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While Crehan's reports further showed that the overall market adoption of white box-class data center switching was in the 20% range, deployments are actually higher for the newer and faster networking speeds that are being rolled out by Amazon, Google and Facebook. Because of Google's dominance in early deployments, almost all of the current volume in 400 GbE data center switching is being driven by white box-class switches.

"We expect that, similar to other Ethernet speeds, the portion of white box-class data center switch volumes will decline as a broader customer base starts to deploy 400 GbE switches," Crehan said.