We published the Data Center Networking Magic Quadrant a few weeks back. This market covers commercial vendors that provide hardware and/or software solutions to deliver connectivity primarily within enterprise data centers. The vendors who met inclusion criteria this year were: Arista, Big Switch, Cisco, Cumulus, Dell EMC, Extreme, HPE, Huawei, Juniper, Lenovo, Mellanox, H3C, Pluribus and VMware. When looking at Magic Quadrants, people typically focus initially on the graphic, but since there is a ton of other valuable info in the research, here are a few random but interesting (at least IMO) snippets…
Some market predictions:
- The percentage of manual data center networking operational activities will fall below 50% by 2021, down from 80% today.
- The predominant data center networking server access port speed will shift from 10 Gbps today to 25 Gbps during 1Q20.
As a former network engineer, I never had great mgmt./visibility tools, so a topic near and dear to me from the “trends” section of the research:
Visibility and analytics: As the core hardware and operating systems become increasingly commoditized in this market, vendors are moving to differentiate their products in different ways, including visibility and analytics. We are seeing vendors starting to provide dramatically improved visibility and analytics, including support for streaming telemetry or In-band Network Telemetry (INT). These capabilities provide much more granular insight for enterprises to manage, troubleshoot and operate data center networks versus today’s approaches. While there is substantial value for enterprises, there is a general lack of education and budget, and real-world adoption of these capabilities remains low today. Further, there is an unclear financial model from vendors delivering this capability. We anticipate INT will become a key feature of data center networking, but not result in a dramatic shift to data center network buying habits over the next 12 months.
Data Center Networking Co-opetition:
Just a few years ago, almost every vendor in this research was a fierce head-to-head competitor. This is no longer the case, as there is a substantial degree of co-opetition, with vendors both partnering and competing. There are numerous instances of this, with specific examples including: Dell EMC is the majority owner of VMware, owning 80%-plus of VMware stock. HPE maintains a 49% ownership in New H3C group, resells Arista and VMware data center networking products, and also supports running Big Switch Networks, Cumulus Networks and other vendors’ NOSs on its Altoline switches. Dell supports Cumulus Networks, Big Switch Networks, Pluribus Networks and other vendors’ software running on its switches. Mellanox Technologies supports the Cumulus Networks NOS (and others) running on its switches. Cumulus Networks has its own hardware, but also has integrated its software to run on HPE, Mellanox Technologies and Dell switches. VMware NSX runs on top of all vendors’ hardware, and it has performed specific hardware/overlay integration with most vendors in this research, including Arista Networks and Juniper Networks. Lenovo partners with Juniper Networks to fill out its data center networking portfolio, including the use of Contrail as an overlay solution. (And that is just a few examples, there are many more).
Here’s the link to the full research (paywall):
Summary: As enterprises scale digital business initiatives, they must balance refreshing equipment and expanding capacity, while improving agility and maintaining uptime in their data center networks. I&O leaders can use this research to identify which vendors best fit their requirements
PS – Today marks my 20 year anniversary in the real working world, as 07/27/98 was my first day (fresh out of college) at Booz Allen Hamilton.