400 Gbps : The New Normal for Networks

All datacenter boats have been raised by the rising tide of pandemic-driven digitization.Datacenter components investment has been considerable across the board, from the largest cloud service providers and hyperscalers to small and mid-sized managed service organisations, with network gear showing significant, continuous gains.

According to research firm Dell’Oro, which released datacenter switching industry study this week, the switching market is thriving, with plenty of interest in forward-looking technologies like 800Gbps speeds and steady growth for the nascent 400Gbps market.

This is particularly remarkable, according to Sameh Boujelbene, senior research director at Dell’Oro group, because growth, especially for 400Gbps ports, which doubled in 2021 (despite still only accounting for 10% of the market), is robust across all of the large datacenter markets they track, from CSPs, telcos, and large corporations, with “double-digit growth and record high sales for 2021.”

Vendors aren’t stocking everything, according to Boujelbene. For example, despite its current dominance, don’t expect a rush on 100Gbps, but 400Gbps will remain hot for a few years yet, and suppliers are grabbing anything they can to keep their major CSPs and corporations fed.

This storage is not unjustified, particularly considering the uncertainties the market has already withstood. 400Gbps is making a big transition out of hyperscale and CSPs in to other ordinary enterprises, so this amassing is not totally unfounded, even if it does warp prognostication.

Even if some supply issues affect various components and vendors, the market is booming for the major customers of datacenter network gear, such as the largest CSPs in the US and Meta/Google types who all go for white box choices, all the way to corporations who buy from branded vendors. Overall, according to Dell’Oro, steady state Arista and white box suppliers will capture all but 10% of market increase in 2021.

The fascinating thing here is that the datacenter market, like nearly all other industries, has learned some essential lessons from the supply chain crunch: always have as much on hand as you can since you never know when or where the next bottleneck will occur.