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A software stack with a boot loader, a network OS, application software, and management software turns a bare metal switch into a white box switch. This report addresses the software choices available for implementing open network switching.


  • While the Open Compute Project is producing reference solutions for open networking, de facto solutions dominate the market.

Features and Benefits

  • Identifies the commercial and open source initiatives for open networking switch operating systems as well as other components of the white box switch software stack.
  • Identifies the role of the Open Compute Project in advancing white box switching.
  • Identifies the de facto solutions that dominate the open networking market.
  • Compares networking OS software commercially available from six vendors.
  • Evaluates the position of legacy switch vendors towards open networking.

Key questions answered

  • What are the de facto standards for white box switches?
  • What open source software projects support bare metal switching, and what software is commercially available?

Table of contents


  • In brief
  • Ovum view

The software interface to merchant switch silicon

  • The white box switch data plane is based on merchant silicon
  • Shell access
  • The software development kit
  • Broadcom’s OpenNSL
  • Broadcom’s OF-DPA

Operating system software

  • IP Infusion
  • Big Switch Networks
  • Pica8
  • Cumulus Networks
  • Pluribus Networks
  • Broadcom
  • Open Network Linux
  • Facebook open switching system (FBOSS)
  • Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Switch

Management software

  • Open networking tools


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author

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