Light Reading
Pica8 adds to its arsenal of SDN switches but still has work to do on its go-to-market strategy, believes one industry analyst.

Pica8 Adds Muscle to ABC – 'Anybody But Cisco'

Mitch Wagner
2/18/2014
50%
50%

Pica8 Inc. has introduced a new white box switch designed to counter fears of limited configuration choice and bolster its ABC -- "Anybody But Cisco" -- strategy.

Adding to its range of switches developed for software-defined networking (SDN) deployments, the P-3297 is purpose-built for scaling OpenFlow environments, running Broadcom ASICs scaling to 8,000 flows, with a US list price of $4,690.

Hardware is provided by original device manufacturers (ODMs) Foxconn and Alpha Networks, along with another manufacturer that doesn't want to be named. "It doesn't want to be known as a white-box manufacturer just yet," Pica8 VP marketing Steve Garrison said in a phone interview.

Garrison said, "We're trying to reduce the fear that there's not enough choice out there." (For more on Pica8's attempts to make SDN easier, see Can Starter Kits Jumpstart SDN?)

The ODM model gives customers the same breadth of configuration choices they get when ordering desktop PCs from Dell, he said. Pica8 wants to provide more scalable networking hardware, just like with PCs.

The new switch means Pica8 now offers three 48x1GbE models, four options for 10GbE, and plans for 40G platforms and Trident 2 VXLAN support.

The breadth of Pica8's offerings is its biggest strength, says analyst Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research. "As the expression goes, when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail and that's the way most of the startups in the SDN space approach the market," he said in an email. "However, Pica8 has multiple hardware platforms as well as pure software model so organizations can choose the best combination of switches and software to build a conventional network, software-defined network or hybrid environment."

Pica8's main competition is the installed base that's reluctant to switch to a white box model, Garrison said. "My competition is the customer unwilling to try a new vendor, because they have many things on their plate." Other vendors with a white-box strategy include Pluribus, Big Switch Networks , and Cumulus. (See Murray Leads Big Switch Into Bare Metal Battle, Big Switch CEO: We're Not for Sale, and SDN: A Particular Set of Skills Much in Demand.)

Kerravala agrees: "The big competitor for the entire industry is the status quo. Customers need to recognize that it's time to evolve the datacenter network to meet the demands of today's IT challenge."

Pica8's big weakness is credibility, Kerravala added. Customers may be hesitant to buy from a company that might get acquired or experience some other event that would interrupt service. Pica8 has a strong customer base and should promote its existing customers to mitigate the perceived risks, he believes.

"There is a group out there that I call ABCs -- anybody but Cisco," ACG Research analyst Ray Mota said. The group includes Pica8. "What they're smart in is that they realize that just breaking the control plane from the data plane is not enough," he said. Pica8 uses CloudStack and OpenStack to manage and orchestrate the network more effectively.

"Right now the weakness would be key partnerships," Mota said. "Having partnerships with integrators that can put all the pieces together is important for Pica8 to do. Another part is scaling on support. They need to accelerate their channel management program so that when they go to these enterprise customers they have a good solid base of people who support it, install it, and allow it to scale."

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to mwagner@lightreading.com.

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/24/2014 | 3:40:30 PM
Re: Dominant
I agree that partnerships will be key to development. That is why I think this strategy of 'Anybody But Cisco' will work. Especially in the case of SDN. Will anyone be able to do it alone? Maybe Cisco...
MarkC73
50%
50%
MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 7:42:39 PM
Re: Dominant
I agree, typically if you are going against a heavily entrenched incumbent, you'll need to do at least a couple of things right.  Something better than what the current market leaders offers and a sustainable (and growing) customer base.  If not, things are going to be rough, even if you have a superior product.

With SDN, partnerships will be key to development and acceptance, both on the development of the technology as well as the trial customer base.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/18/2014 | 1:23:40 PM
Dominant
Cisco is such a huge force in networking, but I can see how being the antithesis for that company could offer something different for providers. 

What Pica8 really needs to do is strategically partner with some service providers - those organzations are the ones who bring the gear into certain environments. I think they know this - but it is easier said than done. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (8) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed