Bare Metal vs. Open Network vs. Traditional Switch: How to Choose?

Posted on Jan 25, 2024 by

PicOS® Switch Software

In today's era of rapid advancement in network technology, network switching devices play a key role in connecting and transferring data. However, with different types of switches emerging, such as bare-metal switches, open network switches, and traditional switches, it has become an important task for organizations to make informed decisions among these many choices.

In this article, we will delve into the differences between these three types of switches to help readers better understand their features so that they can make informed choices in real-world applications. Let's explore the unique features of these network switches and build an efficient network architecture together!

What Is Bare Metal Switch, Open Network Switch and Traditional Switch?

Bare Metal Switch

Bare metal switches are pure hardware devices from original design manufacturers (ODMs) and do not contain any network operating system (NOS). Users can develop their own applications to run on bare-metal switches. Bare metal switches are currently very popular in medium and large enterprises and data centers. Users can purchase a third-party network operating system (NOS) - such as Pica8, Cumulus Linux OS, IP Injection, and others.

Open Network Switch

The concept of an open network switch (white box switch) and a bare-metal switch is often confusing; the difference is that an open network switch has an operating system installed. It is still an open switch because the operating system and hardware are not integrated as they are in a traditional switch, the equivalent of buying a bare metal switch and an operating system in a package. Essentially, organizations are buying a bundled solution consisting of a bare metal switch and an NOS.

Traditional Switch

Traditional switches are typically those network switching devices that use closed, proprietary hardware and software designs. These types of switches are usually pre-configured by the manufacturer with operating systems and network features, and users are often unable to change or replace these components after purchase. That is, if you choose a particular brand of switch, you must use that brand of switch software. For example, if you purchase a Cisco Catalyst switch, you must also purchase IOS.

A Table Comparison Between Bare Metal Switch & Open Network Switch & Traditional Switch

The following table lists the differences between these three switches so that users can be more specific about their features:

  Bare Metal Switch Open Network Switch Traditional Switch
Definition Switches from ODMs without a pre-loaded NOS Commodity-based bare metal switches with a preloaded NOS, or pure bare metal switches but without a well-known brand name Proprietary hardware and NOS
Network operating system (NOS) None. Users can load 3rd party NOC. Vendors' own or a 3rd party NOC already loaded. Vendors' own NOC
Type of hardware components Off-the-shelf components including ASIC Off-the-shelf components including ASIC High Proprieratry
Cost Low Low Higher

Choosing the Right Switch

Organizations can consider the following factors when choosing between bare metal switches, open network switches, and legacy switches:

  • Flexibility and Customizability Needs: Open network switches and bare-metal switches are suitable for scenarios that require a high degree of customization, while traditional switches are more suitable for simple needs.

  • Performance and Stability Needs: Traditional switches focus on stability and are suitable for organizations with low performance requirements; open network switches offer greater flexibility and are suitable for scenarios that seek high performance.

  • Network Scale and Complexity: Traditional switches are suitable for small-scale and simple networks; open network switches and bare metal switches are more suitable for large-scale and complex networks.

  • Technical Expertise: Traditional switches require less technical expertise and are easy to deploy and maintain; open network switches and bare metal switches require more technical understanding and management capabilities.

Considering these factors, enterprises can choose the most suitable network switching solution according to their own needs.

Bare Metal vs. Open Network vs. Traditional Switch: How to Choose?

How FS Can Help

FS, as a leading company in the field of communication, offers a wide range of bare metal switches and traditional switches as well as corresponding solutions to meet the needs of different users.

FS's bare metal switch series and operating systems provide highly flexible network architecture and superior performance to meet the highly customized needs of next-generation data centers, enterprises and service providers.FS's legacy switch series, with years of technology accumulation and continuous innovation, provides users with stable and reliable network performance. Currently, FS.com offers 1G/2.5G/10G/25G/40G/100G/200G/400G bare metal switches, traditional switches and one-stop networking solutions, as well as PicOS-based operating systems.

Sign up for free today! Explore more switch series from FS.

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