Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Market Categories and Deployment Types
- Decision Criteria Comparison
- GigaOm Radar
- Solution Insights
- Analyst’s Outlook
- About Andrew Green
1. Executive Summary
The market for data center switching has seen multiple transformations over the last decade due to the consolidation of data center operations into a smaller set of service providers and a subsequent reorientation toward hybrid environments. In the early 2010s, most large enterprises and even mid-sized businesses handled their workloads on-premises or in their own data centers. Since the mid 2010s, these workloads have slowly been migrated to data centers hosted by third-party providers.
As we progress into the mid 2020s, organizations are deliberately opting for hybrid environments. This shift is the result of cloud-first approaches displaying their own set of challenges, mainly related to cost. The deliberate choice of the hybrid approach is important because often organizations unwillingly find themselves in a hybrid environment anyway when employing cloud services while still running on-premises workloads.
Today’s “application-first” orientation positions networks as a support function, reframing the approach from a bottom-up view—network to application—to a top-down view—application to network. Combining development operations (DevOps) principles with network operations (NetOps), NetDevOps entails remote provisioning, configurations, and networking policies that support application performance.
The latest trend that affects data center network architectures and target customers is AI workloads. These workloads behave differently from other enterprise applications and will need to find a home in cloud-native environments, in colocation environments, or in on-premises data centers. This requirement positions infrastructure service providers, colocation providers, and large organizations as the main buyers of new data center switching solutions.
To respond to this need, data center switches are evolving to enhance their capabilities around three main themes:
- Hardware switching performance with respect to throughput and port speeds
- Software advancements for network operating systems (NOSs) to handle larger volumes and bursty traffic
- Tools for managing the design, deployment, and operations of new and larger data center networks
This evolution includes the deployment and management of switches using modern techniques targeted toward application performance.
This is our third year evaluating the data center switching space in the context of our Key Criteria and Radar reports. This report builds on our previous analysis and considers how the market has evolved over the last year.
This GigaOm Radar report examines nine of the top data center switching solutions and compares offerings against the capabilities (table stakes, key features, and emerging features) and non-functional requirements (business criteria) outlined in the companion Key Criteria report. Together, these reports provide an overview of the market, identify leading data center switching offerings, and help decision-makers evaluate these solutions so they can make a more informed investment decision.
GIGAOM KEY CRITERIA AND RADAR REPORTS
The GigaOm Key Criteria report provides a detailed decision framework for IT and executive leadership assessing enterprise technologies. Each report defines relevant functional and non-functional aspects of solutions in a sector. The Key Criteria report informs the GigaOm Radar report, which provides a forward-looking assessment of vendor solutions in the sector.