Open networking

The competitive difference

Reaping the benefits of virtualisation for networking too

The market dominance of the major network equipment vendors has only recently initiated a counter development, similar to the virtualisation of computing where a mature, horizontal, open architecture has existed for several years now. Servers are built as open hardware by many platform integrators using silicon from a few manufacturers. Operating systems are independent, with Linux as today’s primary choice. Applications run indepedently on top. As a result, computing is cheap and can easily be virtualised. Without the open architecture, cloud computing would not exist.

Network virtualisation

In contrast, the dominating network equipment vendors still provide vertically integrated systems, including the hardware, an operating system and the application software in a closed solution. Only since about 2010, so-called bare-metal switches, open network operating systems and separate applications arose. Similar to the server market before, the resulting software-defined networking (SDN) increases flexibility and reduces costs.

The hardware platforms for rackmountable switches and wireless access points are now readily available from various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); the openness of the market and transparency on product performance resulted in competitive and cost-effective offerings. The remaining task is to take the components and integrate them into an ecosystem for high-performance switching.

Open networking enables the decentralised integration of the enhanced security features that build a tunnel for each individual connection and thus protect the network from the inside. All at reduced cost.

Resolving vendor lock-in while taking the installation burden away

Integrating a network switch from bare-metal hardware, Open Network Linux and a packet-forwarding application can be hard. The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the open networking market comes at the cost of lacking user-friendliness and support.

Circle OS

Circle Networks takes the implementation burden away from users who want to reap the benefits of bare-metal switches and open software. Circle Networks' switches are built on top of high-end OEM hardware; the Circle OS operating system is a further development of the switch abstraction interface and integrates Open Network Linux. On top of the operating system, the application layer leverages best-in-class open-source software-defined networking libraries, implementing Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards.

The result are white-box switches: more cost-effective than leading brand equipment — while using the same OEM hardware — ready-to-use, and fully transparent as all documentation is made available to the customer. The end of vendor lock-in.