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Amazon Web Services said to eye network devices, networking stocks tank

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39 points · 1 day ago

If $/Gbps was the only thing that mattered, we would all have whitebox by now.

4 points · 1 day ago

Yeah, "Broadcom in a box" is cheap as hell ( ). It's not the hardware you're paying for.

31 points · 2 days ago

Network Prime.

49 points · 1 day ago · edited 1 day ago

Hijacking the top post to say I think it's bullshit that /u/HoorayInternetDrama took down my post on this that was exactly identical. OPs post here is perfectly fine and is obviously popular judging by the amount of comments. This is industry news and is completely different than dropping a link to someone's blog. I think the mods need to relax as well as be consistent. There's nothing wrong with either of these posts. Lots of discussion here and the people obviously like it.

15 points · 1 day ago

The moderation here has gotten inconsistent and draconian.

Could it be that they have not seen it yet? How many mods are on here on a daily basis? I truly ignorant to this and wondering.

6 points · 1 day ago

He replied to me after this thread had already made the front page, but that’s not the point. It shouldn’t have been taken down in the first place. This is industry news and has generated a lot of discussion. It's a stupid rule that accomplishes nothing.

-2 points · 1 day ago · edited 1 day ago

Isn't that common on reddit, though? Unless I'm missing something, it makes sense to have a single post so the conversation isn't in two separate places. Otherwise you end up with 20 people posting the same thing and the conversation never develops correctly because because it's spread across so many places. Especially considering this sub isn't very large, it makes sense to me to just keep once post.

3 points · 1 day ago · edited 1 day ago

I posted mine first and then /u/HoorayInternetDrama deleted it because it was "drive-by linking." Then OP made this post after and it stayed up.

Edit: As of now, my post was submitted and immediately taken down 23 hours ago. This post wasn't submitted until 20 hours ago.

13 points · 1 day ago

The mods in this sub are out of control. I miss the days when we had light moderation and let the votes decide the posts (before /u/HoorayInternetDrama became a mod).

I have seriously considered making an /r/uncensorednetworking subreddit at various points.

When you need a switch same day delivered by a dude named Marcus.

You rang?

Network Automation Software Developer - CCNP R&S
1 point · 1 day ago

Network Now.

10 points · 1 day ago

I'm confused. Isn't Amazon just using bare metal switches from Quanta et al? Bare metal switches mean commodity silicon, so Amazon could easily start manufacturing their own, but you have to wonder where the profits come in.

Perhaps they're really talking about shipping their switch software. Or perhaps they think bare-metal commodity switches with Amazon FireOS Switch edition will really fly off the shelves at a premium price.

Freelance Network Coder
15 points · 1 day ago

but you have to wonder where the profits come in

Switches managed from the Amazon Cloud, like Meraki?

-1 points · 1 day ago

Ugh Meraki, the training wheels of networking.

We love Meraki because it means no one has to worry about learning IPv6 since the equipment doesn't support it.

Is this a joke? (Genuine question)

I’m joking about using Meraki but it’s true the equipment doesn’t fully support IPv6


Yeah, also do not have to worry about having good network engineers, since any complicated config is something Meraki cannot do.

2 points · 15 hours ago

Meraki can do IPv6. The limitation is NAT+dual-stack on a single fw box.

There is nothing wrong about that. Keeping it simple is a beautiful thing

Yes and no. I feel extremely handcuffed and the logging on these things is horrendous, even if you point it to a syslog server. There have been some other things we have run into a well. specifically around vpns. Meraki basically routes everything through the main device. That can be good, but bad if that's not what you want. Not bashing Meraki here, just saying it feels like a beginners platform.

1 point · 1 day ago

Meraki wireless yes. Their cameras are starting to get decent.

IPv6 BGP4+ Cisco Juniper
2 points · 1 day ago

Honestly as a sysadmin and network admin I'd say I'm all in for proper asic drivers for example for FreeBSD. Setting up a switch or router on bsd is so much easier than on any other os including JunOS. Which is ridiculous. But i don't think this is where Amazon is going to. They are probably AoLing everything "buy this black box with direct connect to closest Amazon dc and we'll do the routing mumbo jumbo"

2 points · 1 day ago

It seems to me Linux has much better support for switch ASICs and NICs than any BSD variant.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but certainly that’s the impression I get.

IPv6 BGP4+ Cisco Juniper
2 points · 1 day ago

Linux has wider hardware support. Not necessarily better. Most of the times it is just a tick in a task list for most hardware supporters if not worse. While it is true that Linux is more popular and BSD lags behind in ASIC and network card support on desktops in server side they have plenty support.

Just pop Intels in or Myrinet devices and have that line rate full saturation udp 56b with minimal load under netmap.

Agreed. Not sure where BSD gets any value nowadays.

Freelance Network Coder
21 points · 2 days ago

Anyone remember Facebook Wedge? That was supposed to be the thing that would take Cisco down, back in 2014.

15 points · 1 day ago

How’s that? It was never a product to be released to market. It is purpose built for one companies environment. FB open sourced the design with opencompute but that’s not the same as trying to take Cisco down.

Freelance Network Coder
12 points · 1 day ago

Yeah, that's what people realized once the noise and dust settled down, but the initial reactions were like "well, now Cisco is screwed".

4 points · 1 day ago

FWIW, Accton/Edge-Core will sell you Wedge 40 and Wedge 100 switches. I even saw one on ebay the other day. Accton manufactures them for FB and sells them through their Edge-Core brand.

Any experience with edgecore? I've been looking at some of their smaller offerings to replace some catalyst chassis...

1 point · 1 day ago

I'm loving the 5912X's running OcNOS currently. I have a 5712 running Cumulus that's also pretty steady.

1 point · 1 day ago

Yep. That’s the open source part of it. Don’t really ever see it being a game changer though. FB buys a billion of them from Acton. The rest that they sale is just for the fun of it. The wedge on eBay was one that shouldn’t have been on eBay if you know what I mean ;)

12 points · 1 day ago · edited 1 day ago

I can see where Arista would be threatened, but Cisco stock going down? Different market, different purpose. I dunno... I've been doing this long enough for people to freak out about Dell Force10 switches.

5 points · 1 day ago

The point is going to be scaling and licensing. If AWS has a more sane licensing structure, lots of small and mid range IT departments are going to be giving it a closer look.

1 point · 1 day ago

Some companies are very much AWS shops though and they could leverage a familiar environment. Also Arista has done a pretty successful job of eating much of Cisco's market share

since 2001
5 points · 1 day ago

I honestly can't imagine why.

The thing that people seem to keep missing is that network hardware isn't the crucial differentiator in the industry, and it almost never has been. Long before merchant silicon became a thing there were plenty of companies that made forays into the networking industry with fast hardware that still ended up either failing outright or becoming a bargain acquisition. Lots of these companies had very cool gear that had much more impressive specs than the incumbent vendors of the time - and at cheaper prices - and they still failed.

The folks that survived as mainline players realized that they had to hit- and maintain- a degree of feature-richness and support with software. Cisco didn't sell millions of 2500's and 2600's with late-80's CPU and memory because they had bad-assed hardware but because of IOS and the sheer breadth and depth of features within. The same applies to now 20+ years of the Cat 6K line - a period during which it was usually a middling performer in terms of raw throughput and density. It hit an absolute ton of use-cases and had a ton of depth of support from the vendor and arguably an even greater breadth from the number of folks familiar with supporting the product.

A similar story could be told about Juniper, JunOS and the original M-series boxes in the very late 90's/early 2000's. Very good hardware, to be sure, but tons of focus (and time/money spent) on making software that managed to fit well into a demanding niche. In particular (but not exclusively) they did BGP and MPLS incredibly well - which was arguably a bigger focus than the hardware itself. Similarly, they grew their support infrastructure internally and externally and made it a sane bet for companies and engineers to use and learn.

Writing, maintaining and supporting these platforms at scale is a lot harder than most people seem to give credit for. As big and impressive as Amazon's infrastructure may be, it's a tiny fraction of the use-cases that network vendors have to account for and support in the actual broader industry. Amazon's in-house boxes are purpose-built to solve Amazon's specific set of problems. That means a user base consisting of a controlled population of fairly well-qualified engineers (...working for the same company) implementing against known requirements. Compare this to the environments we actually see in the field - ad-hoc accretions of 25+ years of networking implemented by a long succession of under-trained and under-appreciated network folks.

Here's a good example: there are 4-5 threads a week on this forum alone with folks trying to figure out how to make spanning tree play nice between HP, Cisco/IOS, Cisco/Meraki, Juniper, et al. STP has been around for a long time, and it's still a problem. The big cloud guys (AWS included) have largely avoided STP for plenty of good reasons. Selling to the broader market almost certainly means having to work out (...and support) not only how to work with their own boxes but also how to safely and sanely interact with all of the other stuff that's potentially out there. It's one thing to take an IPSEC connection and a BGP feed from a well-defined demarcation. It's entirely another to jump into the middle of that network and hope to function.

Here's the thing: as soon as they start selling directly into existing environments (...and integrating with same) rather than bringing apps back to their well-standardized infrastructure they lose a huge amount of what made them competitive in the first place.

Cisco didn't sell millions of 2500's and 2600's with late-80's CPU and memory because they had bad-assed hardware but because of IOS and the sheer breadth and depth of features within.

I'm going to disagree with you there. The vast majority of companies don't use more than a dozen or so protocols and they're all using the same stuff (VLANs, STP, CDP/LLDP, SNMP, OSPF/EIGRP). People aren't choosing Cisco over HPE, Extreme, Juniper, etc because of features, everyone supports the essentials now.

They're choosing Cisco because of inertia and familiarity. The senior engineer did CCNA training 20 years ago and knows how to type "conf t" and what a native vlan is and what a trunk port is and can't be bothered to learn the new scary industry standard terms like tagged and untagged. They still think the IOS syntax from the 1990s is the best way to do things. They can't imagine a world where you just type *enable ssh* or *create vlan data tag 10*.

Cisco is dropping about 2% market share per year. People are finally realizing they're kind of riddled with bugs, cost way more than competition, and don't do anything special.

The stat you cited is incredibly broad - almost to the point of irrelevance. Global Ethernet share? Is a loss here reflective of cost, code quality and competitive issues (as you suggest) or the fact that a massively growing chunk of the overall Ethernet market is in areas that Cisco doesn't address (ex: consumer-grade gear) or is growth occurring in geographies where there are other issues at work? Or some combination of these factors and a dozen more?

The actual more granular stats (ex: DC switching vs enterprise user vs SMB) tell a much more complex story - one in which the specific revenues and market shares vary a great deal from year to year, quarter to quarter and in different geographies and market segments. The competitive landscape in the US for high-density 100GE ports in the big cloud providers doesn't really have much effect on SMB's buying standalone 48-port GE switches to light up a half-dozen PoE phones - and neither has a whole lot of tie to the nature of metro ethernet services in the Middle East, or industrial networking gear in China.

Seriously - even from a macro/market research point of view, the real questions that actually mean anything in terms of relevance and viability are in terms of revenue and gross margin within those specific markets or geographies. Losing market share in low-margin spaces isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you're gaining it in emerging higher-margin spaces.

Finally - the funny thing about your complaints about code quality and the fundamental commonality/consistency of modern features (the "essentials" as you put it) is self-contradictory. Bugs can occur anywhere, of course, but are hugely correlated with new features and changes. Put another way, software bugs reliably correlate with software changes. New features are being implemented and older features (hopefully) improved. Network operating systems (from any major vendor, not just Cisco) are most definitely not in some kind of maintenance-only lifecycle.

My original point is that the problem of writing and maintaining useful network operating systems that are applicable on an industry wide basis is a hard problem - far more akin to a major general purpose operating system (think MS, Linux, etc) than, say, firmware for embedded control systems. It's not as simple as a "dozen or so protocols" and Amazon's realization that they can implement their own networking platforms is indicative of the far more limited use-cases Amazon has to address than the inherent inadequacy of [Cisco|HP|Arista|Juniper|Huawei|etc..] as competitors.

0 points · 6 hours ago

Fanboy much? If you're going to comment on a whole industry you *have* to use a broad brush. Cisco is losing switching market share across the board. Their QA has turned to shit. People are realizing a 30 year old syntax sucks in 2018.

Not a fanboy, just taking a broader view - and commenting on the "whole industry" is, again, kind of meaningless in this context. Incidentally Cisco isn't losing market share "across the board" - which you'd know if you looked at the finer-grained stats. Different sectors, different verticals, different markets - some places there are gains, other places there are losses. Again, the way in which it's measured really varies: are you concerned with number of ports shipped? total revenue/margin? are you measuring Y/Y or Q/Q?

The other strange thing is your hang-up on syntax as some kind of defining attribute. The means of configuring the box is not the same as the features, support and integration of the box. If you're focused purely on CLI then you're already way behind the industry. Exposure via API's and such is pretty much the big concern for any modern shop operating at scale. This is generically true for any of the majors out there, incidentally.

The other point is the importance of tons of other factors that are likely more significant to people signing checks than people typing "show run" (ex: breadth of support, integration with broader ops systems and processes, supply chain concerns, product longevity, etc). Keep in mind that these factors are pretty much what also made Juniper, HP, Arista, etc viable players in the industry while, strangely, white-box switching solutions are still mostly a rounding error on most stats even 5+ years since introduction.

BTW - The flip-side of so-called "Cisco fanboys" are the folks who are just as doctrinaire about hating all things Cisco on general principle. It's just as myopic. Cisco is a giant company that sells a lot of different things to a lot of different industries.

0 points · 2 hours ago

Back in the day Cisco was a leader. They’ve just been coasting for a few decades now. Look at the release notes, the few things they add anymore nobody wants. They don’t even have “show this” across all their lines.

Release notes for what ? Optical gear? Compute? Industrial automation? Call center software? Desk phones? Video conferencing? Traffic analytics? Security? Wireless? Storage switching? DC Ethernet fabric? Infrastructure automation software? Campus networking? Something else entirely?

Seriously - that's a lot of release notes.

As for the idea of adding features that nobody wants? Why bother? Wouldn't they make a whole lot more money if they just put all of their switching code in maintenance mode and never released a new product? Seems like margins would go up, if anything.

4 points · 1 day ago


3 points · 1 day ago

IMHO I think that Amazon will do what Facebook does. Make their own switch and never go to market with it.

7 points · 1 day ago

Having hands on experience deploying AWS' "Brick" and "Spine" systems in their DC's this does not shock me one bit.

A Brick is similar to a cisco nexus device except it fits 4X the ports in the same rackspace for about half the price cisco could deliver it for. Last revision i had my hands on the ports was 40gig fiber. They have been running their own OS on these since day 1 and use off the shelf hardware to make it happen.

It took maybe 2 hours to deploy the stack once the infrastructure was in place and connected. Rebuilding was cake and could be done on the fly due to the redundancy.

What is your definition of stack? Just for comparison sake, if I am setting up a leaf in ACI, I discover it (2 mins), assign it to a switch profile (5 minutes), create and interface profile (2 mins) and now I am ready to start using access ports on the TOR leaf. To me, other than port density, I don't see the value add over other competition. And with all that said, the customer does not pay a monthly fee for their TOR switch.

1 point · 1 day ago

Building out 96 devices with 48 ports each and configuring them for redundant switching took 20 minutes start to finish from time of power up.

I was meaning the physical stack not the network stack.

Same for any whitebox in a large org. Facebook run FBOSS for example.

2 points · 2 days ago

That's one way to corner a market.

Network Automation Software Developer - CCNP R&S
2 points · 1 day ago

Their wireless product should be called Network Air.

what are network?
2 points · 2 days ago

I wonder if they will focus on connecting DCs or end users. Or both?

Sounds like datacenters, but I am still skeptical. Switches are hard to undercut, as you still need port/port hardware for them. My last company looked at Cumulus, but did not find a huge price difference (and the difference that was present was support). Amazon has also dedicated staff (and a lot of them) to support their in-house networking. How well would these do with engineers not familiar with them? Too soon to tell.

1 point · 1 day ago

Does that mean you were able to negotiate the Cisco price (switch + optics + support) down to near whitebox levels?

About 18 months ago we bought some Edge-Core 10G switches via Cumulus Express, and they were literally half the price of Nexus 3524, with twice the (usable) ports. Didn't haggle with Cisco about the pricing though.

More detail, for anyone who cares: optics, no problems so far but we keep extras around just in case. Did have some trouble with 1G ports initially, but Cumulus support was good and they fixed the software problem in the next release.

-9 points · 1 day ago(3 children)
8 points · 1 day ago

You are in IT and relying on one skill/certification?!! 😐

2 points · 1 day ago

Pretty new to the field, had to start somewhere.

Network Automation Software Developer - CCNP R&S
2 points · 1 day ago


Cisco could use this as a gateway to reforge and re-strengthen their products and the things they are good at, but I imagine they will just take another open source protocol, make one minor change to it, then re-brand it and ask truckloads of cash for it. Then wonder why they are losing market share.

Oh well, adapt or be left behind.

2 points · 1 day ago

Cisco just stands for "CANNOT INNOVATE SO COPY OTHERS". If you look at what they have done over the past 18-20 years NOTHING is original. They just take something, put a small twist in it, then claim they invented it, and bash the originators.

Cisco's story is getting tired. I still don't understand how people eat their tripe and drink the Kool-aid.

This would be amazing if they make bare-metal switches.

14 points · 1 day ago

why? There is already a lot of them out there.

A big company like AWS could finally push standardisation of ASIC architecture which is the big downside of white-box switching at the moment.

You've got OPEN NETWORKING switches from like 3 different vendors, and each one has their own hardware implementation which means three different sets of kernel drivers which in turn means three different sets of feature support, etc.

The reason for that is Dell/Mellanox/HP/etc. all want to make money and their only point of value is the hardware platform which gets kinda cooked if it's all standardised and anyone can do it

By comparison AWS is most likely trying to drive adoption of their cloud services in more entrenched markets (government, defense, etc.) and there's a reasonably good chance that those bugbears will just be solved because they wanted to use cheap hardware and run it in a standard way because that's how you run a massive service like AWS

Cumulus co-founder
2 points · 1 day ago

You've got OPEN NETWORKING switches from like 3 different vendors

If this rumor is true, the result will be open networking switches from 4 different vendors.

Although, realistically, Amazon is likely to resell one of the existing ODM's hardware, or a tweaked variant of it, just like most major OEMs do.

Because a huge company like Amazon could really shift the landscape faster towards open hardware.

1 point · 1 day ago

It would be very surprising to me if this product is anything other their internal switch OS & controller bundled with some whitebox switch. Probably in 10G, 40G, and 100G flavors. Amazon famously requires their teams to build APIs for all internal services, and then sells those services. The only wrinkle here is that now hardware is going to be delivered to customers.

It'll be interesting to see:

" whether management is cloud-based, Meraki-style, or via a local controller

  • how they handle firmware updates

  • whether the OS is "full-featured" (i.e. has feature parity with Cisco, Juniper, Arista, etc, like Cumulus is shooting for), or is stripped-down to just the basic features that Amazon uses internally

Crossing my fingers for some 1/2.5/5G PoE+ edge switches, but not holding my breath, since the Broadcoms and Acctons of the world haven't been making moves in that direction. It could be amazing though.

I’ve never studied economics and the stock market, always been somewhat ignorant on all that. It’s just crazy to me that multiple companies just lost like 4-2% of their value just by people basically guessing that Amazon might hurt their sales? Lol wtf

They will run on BezOS.

I'm listening...

-21 points · 2 days ago(0 children)

But by all accounts, except those you named, Amazon is pretty good at what it does.

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