May 13, 2021

Run Almog

Head of Product Strategy

New NCP White Box Excites the Entire Village

I’ve dealt with various aspects of “product” throughout my career. I’ve tested it, developed it, managed it, marketed it, strategized about it, and, in some cases, even terminated it.

Our flagship product at DriveNets is called Network Cloud. This cloud-native software solution operates over a cluster of white boxes, turning them into a platform that implements network functions where and how these functions best fit network requirements.

New NCP White Box Excites the Entire Village

The New Jericho2C+ ASIC from Broadcom

At first glance, DriveNets Network Cloud seemingly has little to do with hardware products. So why am I excited to write about a new NCP box developed by a hardware ODM that hosts the new Jericho2c+ ASIC from Broadcom, also a hardware vendor? Quite simply, this new NCP box fulfills the promise of disaggregated networking. Let me explain…

At DriveNets we build networks like clouds – flexible, scalable and affordable. Our disaggregated networking software enables the building of Network Cloud clusters of any size, without the limiting rigidity of the traditional metal enclosure of a chassis-based network device. When a new ASIC is born, pushing the envelope of capacity and performance, it’s typically limited by that existing chassis enclosure. As a result, the new chip cannot maximize its potential.

Network Cloud breaks this barrier and enables the maximum performance capabilities of the new ASIC to feed the hungry network. So the new hardware device allows more scaling options and higher scale to the Network Cloud solution.

Network Cloud: A High-scale, Cloud-Native Networking Solution

The Network Cloud cluster consists of NCP white boxes connected via a flexible fabric that enables introducing new NCP boxes into an existing cluster. A fundamental attribute of Network Cloud, this type of flexibility solves a major concern of service providers that their main investment might have to be forklifted “too early” because it cannot sustain new emerging technologies. This kind of deployment flexibility is portrayed by a new and more capable ASIC packaged into a white box that is added easily to the disaggregated networking solution.

Simplify Network Infrastructure with Open, Standard White Boxes

Finally, there’s a reason why it’s called a white box. The vendor manufacturing the white box is implementing standard interfaces and standard APIs. We have white boxes coming from UfiSpace, Edgecore and Delta, and other ODMs implementing NCP boxes will be easily added to the Network Cloud ecosystem. This puts hardware vendor selection in the hands of the customer, offering real and therefore more cost-effective alternatives for building a new Network Cloud solution or expanding an existing one.

Street prices are dictated by supply and demand. When you have a surplus of suppliers and static demand, customers have the upper hand. As more operators increasingly adopt disaggregation in their networks and demand rises, more hardware vendors enter the market since the barrier of entry for building a single-chip white box is relatively low. This works in favor of network operators who are now gaining better control of their networks and making them more affordable.

Building an Ecosystem for the Networking Industry

A missing piece worth mentioning here is the connectivity vendor. All these white boxes eventually are connected via copper and/or optical cabling. The new NCP comes with a capacity of 36 interfaces of 400 GbE. Such 400 GbE interfaces already exist in the network, also as part of the Network Cloud solution with previously available NCP boxes providing 10 such ports per box.

That being the case, the capacity of interfaces per single chip is what makes 400 GbE interfaces a mass-scale solution with the new NCP box. The evolution of 400 GbE interconnect into a cost-effective technology, as demonstrated by Credo, enables mass deployment of 400 GbE clusters that can serve the world’s largest networks.

Disaggregated Networking Solution

Given the various ASIC, white box and interconnect vendors – each providing meaningful contributions to any Network Cloud deployment – it’s clear that building a disaggregated networking solution takes a village. And when a newborn white box is added to the ecosystem, the entire village is excited.

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