Time for a Switch

Ethernet vendors face reinvention to adapt offerings for new consumption models

Jon 'ShakataGaNai' Davis (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Speeds and feeds as an Ethernet differentiator are over. Ethernet macho will be based much more on offering adaptable consumption models than raw throughput.

Dell’Oro states that Ethernet switch vendors must “reinvent themselves” to address a wide array of customers looking to purchase in different ways. The decades-long way of per-port pricing and flexing density pecs is coming to a close. Says Dell’Oro:

Simply offering the next port speed or a new feature will not suffice, as products purchased by the customer-of-the-future will look fundamentally different from those offered today.

We’re seeing this now with disaggregation, subscription-based pricing and cloud-based WLAN solutions. The market is larger if switches appeal to more than one. And buyers are much more interested in OPEX now, not CAPEX, Dell’Oro notes.

Nonetheless, the market for Ethernet switches as-we-now-know-them will grow to more than $25 billion in 2019, a 1.7% compounded annual growth of $23 billion in 2014. Data center upgrades to 100G and enterprise adoption of 2.5G and 5G are steering it.

Multigigabit, or 2.5G and 5G, ports are targeted at high-speed campus wireless LAN connectivity. They are designed to support newer, higher speed access points, like 802.11ac Wave 2.

Dell’Oro says the WLAN market remains on track to record revenues approaching $13 billion by 2019, up from $9 billion in 2014. New growth catalysts include 802.11ac Wave 2, E-Rate funding, cloud-managed technology and new vendors.

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