GigaOm Radar for Data Center Switchingv1.0

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Market Categories and Deployment Types
  3. Key Criteria Comparison
  4. GigaOm Radar
  5. Vendor Insights
  6. Analyst’s Take
  7. About Bhaju Khanal
  8. About Andrew Green

1. Summary

A decade ago, data centers were much smaller, and applications were typically huge, monolithic affairs, deployed using the classic client-server model. The core-distribution-access architecture model for networking served those applications well in data centers with north-south data flows because the application was hosted on a single server that communicated with clients outside of the data center.

In contrast, applications nowadays are built using microservices, which run on different servers within the data center. Microservices must communicate with each other to achieve the functionality of the wider application, requiring more east-west traffic than their monolithic counterparts. So the microservices of today’s applications require a change in data center architecture, namely to spine-leaf deployments with two switching layers.

Another change that is seeing increased adoption in the data center switching space is the use of disaggregated solutions. These types of solutions distance themselves from integrated hardware and software provided by a single vendor in exchange for bare metal or bare-metal hardware appliances and separate network operating systems (NOSs).

This approach allows data center operators more flexibility and control over the networking infrastructure. While we don’t expect to see all data center infrastructure shifting towards disaggregated solutions overnight, vendors who focus only on integrated solutions may well be left behind.

With new architecture models and disaggregated solutions, along with the increased demand for data and the consolidation of data center operations resulting in fewer and fewer players, the key characteristic to assess in any solution is scalability. In this context, scalability is highly dependent on how vendors support design, deployment, and operation activities.

Intelligence and automation around activities for Day 0, 1, 2, and beyond will differentiate the market between leading vendors and laggards. A highly scalable data center solution can support features such as one-touch deployments, AI-based network troubleshooting and diagnostics, and batch policy configurations.

Finally, today’s application-first mentality positions networks as a support function, reframing our approach from a bottom-up view—network to application—to a top-down view—application to network. Borrowing from the DevOps methodology, the NetOps approach remotely provisions, configures, and determines networking policies to support application performance.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:
Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.
GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.
Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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