Under the cover, white box networking gear is made with all the same components as name-brand equipment. It typically contains microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices, Arm Holdings or Intel and network processors from the likes of Broadcom, Intel, Cavium, Mellanox and Barefoot Networks. Because it’s compatible with the same software as name-brand equipment, but comes from “no-name” vendors, white box equipment is the IT equivalent of generic drugs or store-brand products.
IT teams continue to show interest in white box networking mainly for cost reasons, but also for vendor relations management. Because the ODMs that make white box equipment also supply to other vendors, they typically charge significantly less when selling directly to consumers, especially for network switch gear. These systems come with a warranty — often three years — on the parts, but are otherwise unsupported. For instance, they don’t include a professional services division or support staff for troubleshooting assistance.
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