We intend this evaluation of open, programmable data center hardware platforms for SDN to be a starting point only and encourage clients to view detailed product evaluations and adapt criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave™ Excel-based vendor comparison tool ( see Figure 5 and see Figure 6 ). Click the link at the beginning of this report on Forrester.com to download the tool.

Figure 5: Forrester Wave™: Hardware Platforms For Software-Defined Networking, Q1 2018



  • Arista Networks. In 10 years, Arista Networks has grown into one of the largest suppliers of data center networking switches. The company's growth is due to Arista's Operating System (EOS) and extensive set of APIs and its focus on creating data center networking solutions. Besides enabling multiple paths to automation with its own networking hardware, Arista Networks allows customers to deploy EOS on third-party hardware, cloud platforms, and inside containers. Arista's hardware platform consists of chassis (7300, 7320, and 7500 series) and fixed switches (70XX, 71XX, and 72XX series). Customers can choose to use third-party monitoring and management solutions or Arista's offerings, such as CloudVision.

  • I&O professionals who are looking to start their automation journey or are in full swing with a deep programming skill set should look into Arista Networks.

  • Juniper Networks. Juniper Networks is a company with a strong presence in the telecommunications industry and a product portfolio based on a single OS, JunOS, that extends from the data center to the campus edge. This FreeBSD-based operating system is disaggregated and runs on a virtualized Linux environment. Within the data center, customers use Juniper's OCX and QFX series switches. (see endnote 10) The company has its own management solution for traditional switch management, and customers can choose Juniper's Contrail or OpenContrail controllers for a central point of automation.

  • Customers that want to automate the entire network with a consistent OS, from the data center to the business edge, should look to Juniper Networks.

  • Huawei. Huawei, the fastest-growing networking vendor in our evaluation, has two lines of switches for use in the data center, the Agile and CloudEngine switch series. Huawei positions the CloudEngine series switches as its main series, designed exclusively for the data center running Versatile Routing Platform version 8, Huawei's Cloud Engine operating system. VRP v8 was built with VxWorks and is on the company's routers. The company has one of the largest data networking portfolios and retains the largest networking market share within China, with a strong presence in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. Huawei continues to struggle to develop a foothold in the US market.

  • Customers looking for a vendor with wide global reach and a deep product portfolio should put Huawei on their shortlists.

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