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Everything You Should Know About White Box Switch

written by Asterfuison

November 18, 2021

A white box switch (also named white label switch )is a network switch that is assembled from standardized commodity parts, which run on off-the-shelf chips. White box switch is just ‘blank’ standard hardware ,users choose to develop or purchase a thirdparty network operating system (NOS).

With the development of cloud technology, our requirements for network equipment are simple, flexible, reliable. Meantime, open networking is changing the landscape of the data centers and campus networks by empowering users more flexibility and control with simpler deployment. This is why the increasingly largest data centers nowadays embrace the white box switches. But what is a white box switch? How it different from traditional switch,here we can solve your questions.

What is White Box Switch?

The white box switch adopts an open architecture to realize the separation and disaggregation of switch software and hardware, improving network openness, flexibility and programmability. An open white box switch economy enables a more transparent price while reducing OPEX/CAPEX and break free from vendor lock-in.

White box switches mostly have 3 characters:

1.Building on commodity hardware

2.Using ASICs from established vendors

3.Running an open networking operating system(ONOS)

White box switches may pre-installed with open-source software, but it’s more often sold as bare metal hardware. It allows users to purchase hardware from hardware vendors, and then select their preferred network operating system (NOS) from software vendors, leaving users flexibly to choose the switch that best satisfied each particular requirements. It provides a viable alternative, and its open platform simplifies network operations and improves performance, while significantly reducing costs.

Asterfusion bare metal switch family
Asterfusion white box switch family

White box switches hold in sharp contrast to traditional switches which usually come from a single vendor, such as Cisco, Juniper or Huawei who runs a proprietary networking operating system which often charge a premium for their switches, almost twice or third as much as similar performance britebox switch.

Open Network Operating System(ONOS)

Like mentioned before, NOS is a main difference of white box switches and traditional vendors’ switches.

Most white box switches adopt “open” Linux-based NOS, designed to be separated or disaggregated from the underlying hardware, which means that users can change hardware box or NOS at will.

Further to say, when a newer white box hardware launches (or new software), users can replace existing platforms with new platforms even from different vendors. Thus, users can upgrade their hardware and software whenever it’s necessary .Compared to traditional network equipment supplier, the whitebox networking produces the possibilities for open-standards-based portable NOS that can run on various switches from different vendors.

It is predicted that the future market of white box networking is huge, especially with the emergence of ultra-large-scale cloud service providers, whose self-built cloud data centers require a large number of white box switches. Over 20% network equipment will be white box switches, and this scale will exceed US$5 billion.

Difference of Bare Metal switch ,White Box Switch, Brite box Switch

Bare metal switch Hardware and software are completely disaggregated. When a hardware switch leaves the factory, there is no software except BootLoader, and it can also be called a bare metal switch. Similar to buying a compatible machine and then installing Windows or Linux by ourselves.
White box SwitchBuy packaged hardware and software all-in-one machines from a vendor (the vendor only makes hardware or only software, and obtains authorization from the hardware and software partners) and seek unified support from the vendor. 
Brite box switch The hardware and software are manufactured and supplied by the same vendor, similar to buying branded switches but much more cheaper.

White box switches (Click for Asterfusion’s white box switch quotation

What’s the Price of whitebox Switch? Does it cheaper?

Pricing in the networking industry is often very mysterious and opaque. It’s no surprise that traditional network vendors extract a range of four times average selling prices from SMEs to large operators.

With whitebox switches emerge, pricing becomes more transparent and cost-effective. For example, Edge-Core offers a 48 x 10GE + 6 x 100GE network switch for an MSRP of $5000-$5500. Meanwhile, another venor FS ‘s price is about $4100- $4600. Likewise, Asterfusion offers an equivalent 48 x 10GE + 6 x 100GE bare metal switch preloaded with its enterprise SONiC NOS retailing only for $2,599. (support VXLAN and BGP-EVPN ,etc .advancing features) The price is only the half of other manufacturers. Now, with the popularity of bare-metal switch, data center operators of all sizes can purchase high-performance, high-quality switches at a more cost-effective price.

White Box Switch Vendors on the Market:

White box switching Vendor Ecosystem
  • ASIC Vendor:Broadcom、Marvell、 Barefoot、 Mellanox、Centec .
  • Hardware Vendor:DELL、 Arista 、Accton 、Delta、 Foxconn、 Quanta 、Edgecore, Mellonox、Celestica 、Dell 、Lanner、Asterfusion、etc.
  • Software Vendor:Cumulus、BigSwitch、Pica8、Snaproute(commercial version)、IP Infusion 、Arrcus ArcOS、 AsterNOS (Asterfusion Commercial SONiC),etc.
  • Open source Software Vendor:HPE(OpenSwitch)、Microsoft(SONiC)、SnapRoute,etc.

White Box Switch Benefits in Practice:

Open white-box networking can bring many significant advantages to enterprise networks, including campus networks, remote office sites at the access edge, and large-scale data center networks.

  • Leading Price/$ and Performance/W:To cope with the explosive growth of traffic brought about by cloud computing, mobile networks and the Internet of Things (IoT), etc. enterprises have to cope with this traffic load by upgrading their edge switches or switch chassis. However, buying devices from a traditional supplier is a huge expense ,instead of the white box switch is a more cost-effective way .For hyper-scale organizations, especially those who self-built cloud data centers, also require a large number of cost -effective white box switches to reduce OPEX/CAPEX.
  • Flexible and Efficient :An open white-box networking can also facilitate the deployment of leaner leaf-spine architecture network topologies instead of the traditional three-tier model. Leaf-spine architecture no longer needs STP protocol for loop detection, enhancing the utilization of network bandwidth. Meanwhile, it enables network expansion easier , network operators only need to expand the spine switch and the corresponding Leaf switch to expand the scale of the underlying support network. For more:
  • Automation and Easy Deployment : With the continuous expansion of network scale, intelligent operation& maintenance and network automation have become the core features of enterprises.
In-band Network TelemetryAsterfusion CX-N whitebox switches supports In-band Network Telemetry,provides accurate comprehensive real-time network information including port interfaces, packet latency, packet queue lengths, etc. Users can leverage INT information to optimize their business applications to build efficient, intelligent networks.
Zero Touch ProvisioningAsterfusion CX-N whitebox switches supports ZTP (Zero Touch Provisioning), which be able to retrieve configuration files from local or remote file servers and then load the configurations into the switches automatically.
SDN Controller Asterfusion seld-design and develop a SDN controller for seamless integration into OpenStack based cloud OS or standalone deployment turning clusters of switches into a single virtual fabric.
  • Customizability:Compared with brand companies, white box switch vendors who have their own factories and software capabilities, such as Asterfusion, be able to customize development for customers’ hardware specification or specific software application scenarios, which is very valuable to some customers.

To summarize the advantages of white box switches:

  • Simplicity
  • Flexibility
  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Customizability
  • Automation
  • High performance
  • Cost-effective

Are White-box Switches Quality Stable?

Customers will have concerns about the quality of white-box switches. They are worried about its instability since it’s not a mature and famous band. They even subconsciously think that white-box switches are equal to low-priced and inferior products ,which is actually a misunderstanding. For any business model to work smoothly, Quality is the foundation.

In one hand, most of whitebox hardware companies are professional OEM(foundries) and the hardware quality control ability is not inferior to that of the brand owners, and even the brand company ‘s hardware is come from their foundry.

In the other hand, most customers use at most 20% of the software functions of switches made by traditional vendors, which is actually a waste. The white box switch will not involve many features that are not being frequent used instead of focusing on the functions set required by the target customer group. It’s usually focused on the data center field which is even more centralized and controllable.

Application Scenario of White Box Switches:

  • Cloud Data center: White box switches play a crucial role in cloud computing environments, as they are essential for supporting large-scale virtualization and multi-tenant services. The programmable nature of these switches allows for flexible configuration to meet various virtual network requirements, leading to efficient resource utilization and network optimization.
  • Large-Scale Data Center Interconnection: In large-scale data centers, there is a need for high-bandwidth and low-latency interconnections between multiple data centers. White box switches, with their high-performance hardware and programmable features, can fulfill this requirement by enabling fast data transmission and supporting data center interconnection and resource sharing.
  • Edge computing :The rise of edge computing necessitates the development of low-latency, high-bandwidth networks to facilitate communication and data processing between edge devices. White box switches can be tailored to different edge scenarios, ensuring effective connectivity between edge devices.
  • Cloud Campus network: It may come as a surprise, but white box switches have also found extensive use in campus networks. With the expansion of large internet companies, their campus access scale has grown to hundreds of thousands of terminals. Traditional three-layer architecture is no longer adequate for the demands of the new era, leading to the emergence of cloud campus solutions inspired by data center solutions. Some white box manufacturers have already incorporated open network operating systems like SONiC into layer 2 switches. One notable example is Asterfusion, which offers cloud campus solutions.
  • AIGC network: With the increasing prominence of AI, the market demands a large number of AI switches capable of training large language models. However, there is a shortage of NVIDIA’s IB network, prompting traditional manufacturers to seek alternatives such as Ultra Ethernet to challenge NVIDIA’s monopoly. White box manufacturers are also eager to introduce their own high-density AI Ethernet switches, utilizing Ethernet ROCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet) as a replacement for dedicated network IB. For instance, Asterfusion offers a 100G/200G/400G ROCE switch and an upcoming 800G switch.

Comparison of WhiteBox Switches & Traditional Switches

Comparison of WhiteBox Switches & Traditional Switches

White Box Switch Vendors’ Challenges:

White-box switches are the tech world’s rebel alliance – an open, customizable alternative to the closed systems that dominate the networking landscape. But like any revolution, they come with their own set of challenges. Let’s dive into the pros, cons, and future potential of these disruptive devices.

  • Limited Application Scenarios: Despite the advantages, white-box switches haven’t quite taken over the world (yet). They’re currently starring in large-scale cloud data centers, where their flexibility and cost-efficiency shine. But in other realms like metro and wide area networks, the white-box switch revolution is still in its early days. It’s like they’re the indie band that’s huge in the underground scene, but hasn’t quite cracked the mainstream.
  • Market Share and Performance: The white-box switch market is growing like a weed, but it’s still dwarfed by the giants of the traditional switch world. Imagine trying to unseat long-established brands – it’s an uphill battle. Plus, many networks are still mixing and matching traditional and white-box switches, limiting the full expression of those performance advantages. It’s like having a hybrid car that only works at full efficiency on a specific type of road.
  • Under the Hood Challenges: White-box switches aren’t just about flashy features – they also come with some technical hurdles. Compatibility can be a pain, especially when integrating with different brands’ hardware or software. It’s like trying to build a LEGO set with pieces from multiple manufacturers – things can get wonky fast. And while open-source is awesome, it also means more testing and tweaking to ensure stability.
  • The Learning Curve: Switching from a closed, proprietary system to an open white-box switch is like learning a new programming language. It requires a new skillset and a willingness to experiment. Many enterprises and admins are understandably cautious about diving in headfirst. Offering better training and support is key to winning over this hesitant crowd.
  • Security and Management: The openness that makes white-box switches so powerful also brings some risks. Think of it like leaving your front door unlocked – it’s convenient, but also invites potential mischief. Proper configuration and management are crucial to mitigate these risks. It’s a reminder that with great power comes great responsibility.

Asterfusion: The Only One-stop Turnkey Enterprise SONiC Whitebos Swithes for Cloud, Enterprise & AI with 1G-800Gbps Capabilities

As a famous white box switch vendor, Asterfusion delivers one-stop open networking solution for 1G-800G white box switches with their self -develop SONiC enterprise distribution for next generation data centers, AI, enterprises and service providers since 2017.

The core members of Asterfusion are high position people from Cisco and Huawei with decades of rich experience on route and switch development. Now we own over 200 staff team and over 80% are R&D personnel.

Asterfusion has a thorough understanding of the needs of the industry,the capability to develop and design our own hardware switches and ONOS, the ability to make continuous contributions in major open source communities and ecosystems and the great mission to “Re-engineer the cloud networks with whitebox networking “

Asterfusion: Enterprise SONiC Whitebos Swithes with 1G-800Gbps Capabilities

Asterfusion’s Whitebox Switch Solutions

Why Asterfusion Enterprise SONiC distribution?

  • An enterprise ready SONiC distribution for both campus and data center networks.
  • A feature-rich network OS supporting top merchant switching silicons.
  • In-service software upgrade & customized application containers for CI/CD DevOps.
  • A strong R&D team providing the around-clock supports to customers’ technical needs.

SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) is a free and open network operating system based on Linux and developed by Microsoft which nowadays has attracted a large number of industrial chain partners, forming a comprehensive SONiC ecosystem. Since 2017, Asterfusion have been working on their enterprise SONiC-based OS for a turnkey open network solution. Their amazing products stretch from data centers to campus networks and support various port capacities, from 1G to 800G. As industry trailblazers, they’ve already implemented the enterprise SONiC NOS on data centers and layer 2 access switches, demonstrating their dedication to innovation.

Currently, Asterfusion is the only vendor use Enterprise SONiC NOS support Marvell Teralynx, Intel Tofino, Marvell Prestera,Broadcom and Nvidia platforms from data center to campus network product line.

Asterfusion Enterprise SONiC distribution


White-box switches are a disruptive force, promising greater flexibility, cost-efficiency, and innovation. They’re not without their challenges, from market dominance to technical hurdles. But as the networking landscape evolves, these indomitable switches are poised to claim their rightful place.

Asterfusion believes from traditional vendor lock-in networks into today’s software and hardware disaggregation is an inevitable trend of networking industry.

Let us embrace whitebox networking with Asterfusion!

For more contact:


  1. Bera S, Misra S, Vasilakos A V. Software-defined networking for internet of things: A survey[J]. IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 2017
  2. Shuo W, Yang S,Binwei W. White Box Switch Technical White Paper, Network Communication Purple Mountain Laboratory, 2021
  3. Sharon Y, The next generation networking: It’s in White box switch vendors ,Asterfusion data technologies network blog ,,2021
  4. ONF Official Website:
  5. SONiC Official Website:

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