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Key Criteria for Evaluating Network Operating Systemsv2.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Network Operating Systems Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Factors
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. About Ivan McPhee

1. Summary

A network operating system, or network OS, is an essential component of a disaggregated tech stack running on bare-metal servers and switches using merchant silicon. Combining the agility of software-based feature development with bare-metal performance and economics, network operating systems enable massively scalable, cost-effective networks.

The first GigaOm radar report for evaluating network operating systems, open-source projects, and vendors was published in early 2021. After evaluating 19 different commercial and open-source network operating systems, six suppliers were included in the leader’s ring, eight in the challenger’s ring, and five in the new entrant’s ring. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic driving the shift to remote working, 2021 was a watershed year for many network operating system suppliers, as reflected by new acquisitions, new capabilities, new investors, new partnerships, and new customer engagements.

While some vendors hunkered down to focus on alternative go-to-market initiatives and revising roadmaps influenced by new acquisitions, others leveraged the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. These vendors set out to create new value, develop new partnerships, expand feature sets, implement automation, support new platforms, scale their installed base, and position themselves for future growth—all with varying results.

As a maturing technology, network operating systems are being adopted by organizations to enable new use cases. This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and Evaluation Factors for selecting a network operating system. The corresponding GigaOm Radar reports provide an overview of notable network operating systems vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports can help educate decision-makers, providing critical insights for network automation initiatives.

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.