White boxes have been a long time coming, but they also can't replace purpose-built hardware, according to New IP readers who voted in our latest poll -- clearly, split on the topic.
Reflecting the industry mood on the somewhat contentious topic, 30% voted for each of these answers: "It's been a long time coming: The mega players need some shaking/waking up and service providers need a way to cut capex," and, "It's just not the same: White boxes can't ever fully replace purpose-built hardware for performance reasons." (See A White Box Future.)
Want to know more about NFV and SDN? This will be just one of the many topics covered at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event on June 9-10 in Chicago. Get yourself registered today or get left behind!
Cisco's John Chambers spoke about white boxes to Light Reading's CEO Steve Saunders in March and predicted that in the future, the company's main competition would come from white box solutions, or open source software running on generic server and switch hardware. (See CEO Chat With John Chambers, Cisco
This prediction was revolutionary because white boxes were once thought of as largely enterprise, data center or edge solutions, not solutions fit for the wide area network and core, both of which are a real possibility thanks to virtualized, disaggregated New IP networks.
Coming in at a close second on the poll was "Customers will be the biggest winners: A commoditized network will emphasize services and applications, and customer service," with 26%. And it's true that many think this will be the case because as the network becomes commoditized, it will force service providers to focus on customer service and the services themselves to reduce churn.
The other answers in the poll received only small percentages of the vote, with "It's a wash-out: Technology standards will put the damper on the white wash," garnering just 7% of the vote. It's true that technology standards present a significant hurdle that must be resolved before heterogeneous white box networks can thrive, according to Steve Saunders, who wrote a blog on the topic back in March.
"Currently, there's an almost farcical number of de facto, industry and official standards organizations, associations and lobbying groups working on standards for virtualization -- an interoperability train wreck waiting to happen," he wrote. (See Think Outside the White Box.)
Only 2% said white boxes were "bad news," and one commentator pointed out that one topic the poll did not address was a top concern of the service providers' opex cost. Point taken. Advances in silicon and breaking down service silos could benefit service providers there.
After you've digested those numbers, hop back over to the New IP homepage where I'm asking readers what they think will be the immediate benefits of SDN. Check it out and vote today. (See Benefitting from SDN.)
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP