White Box Switch vs Brite Box Switch: Which to Choose?


Open networking means the switch hardware and switch software can be developed independently from each other. With an open networking environment, many organizations have realized open source benefits such as improved flexibility and reduced costs. When IT staff decide to build this open networking, they may come across the word of white box switch or brite box switch. Both the two types of open source switches can be used in the data center SDN (software-defined network) environment. But what’s the difference between them, and which one should you choose? This is the point here, we will provide some definitions and perspectives so you can make the right choice.

What Is White Box Switch?

White box switch is a by-product of SDN, which decouples the hardware (a bare metal switch) from the NOS. It allows customers to buy open switch hardware and pair it with their preferred networking operating system (NOS) like Cumulus Linux or PicOS. Customers can buy white box switch from hardware suppliers like Accton, Quanta. In its early development, white box switches are popular in the huge scale data centers like Facebook, Google, because they have the technical team who can operate Linux. Therefore, they can configure the hardware and the software by themselves. But today, small and medium organizations also try to introduce white box switch to improve their networks.

What is Brite Box Switch?

The term brite box is a white box switch but with a brand name such as Dell and HP on them. Essentially, people could regard brite box switch as the middle ground between a traditional switch and white box switch. But not that brite box switches are pre-loaded with a vendor’s (e.g. Cumulus Networks or Big Switch Networks) operating system. Thus, using brite box switch, customers can receive professional service from the hardware and software suppliers. And the cost of brite box switch is much cheaper than the traditional switch price. As an open source switch, it allows customers to have the flexibility to choose the software and configure their networks.

White Box switch vs Brite Box Switch: Which to Choose?

The future of open networking lies within the choices of “white” and “brite”. Both of them are open source switches, offering open networking hardware that IT staff can enjoy the flexibility that is expected in a software-defined network. With white box and brite box switch, hardware and software are no longer coupled, and as a result, companies can avoid the traditional vendor lock-in which has been a feature of hardware ownership. And note that they may have the same switching chip made by the same producers like Microsemi and can achieve advanced features like MLAG, VxLAN. However, they also have differences as followed.

Technical Support

This is the typical difference between the two open source switches. Brite box switch preloaded with NOS can provide better technical service and support from the vendors, while white box switch is a bare metal switch which requires users to buy NOS by themselves. Therefore, only hyperscale organizations like Amazon and Facebook have the resources to afford the technology of white box switching, because they have IT engineers who are familiar with Linux operations. They can run and maintain the NOS by themselves. On the other hand, brite box switch eliminates the need to have a network software team to write an operating system, which is more suitable for small and medium networks without IT engineers. They could get technical help or support from the vendors while enjoying the open source networking.


The cost of a white box switch is cheaper since customers don’t need to pay for the NOS. They have the freedom to choose a NOS at a lower price. Therefore, the operating expenditure of the white box switch is much lower than that of the brite box switch.


Choosing a white box switch or brite box switch, organizations should make the decision based on their own conditions. For large data centers, white box switch is a nice choice since they have the experts who can operate Linux, while brite box switches are suitable for small and medium organizations since they can offer professional software support.

To satisfy customers’ various demands, FS has released N-series open network data switch with Cumulus Linux, which can receive professional support from FS and Cumulus. If you have more questions about open networking, please contact us through sales@fs.com. We are the reliable networking solution supplier, including a broad portfolio of network switches that range from Gigabit Ethernet switch to 10G/25G/100G switch, and based on the ports there are 8 port switch, 24 port switch, 32 port switch, and 48 port switch.

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