It’s Time to Talk About Programmable and Accelerated Switching


The market is ready for a new classification of Switching in the Data Center

Historically, the portion of the Ethernet switch market geared toward programmability was limited to high-frequency trading (HFT) and some niche Telco use cases. For HFT, Arista and Cisco used a combination of ultra-low latency ASICs and FPGAs. 

That market has historically had approximately $200M in annual revenue. The programable switching market, led by Intel’s Barefoot Tofino ASIC leveraged by nearly a dozen vendors, also does about $200M a year in revenue.

Network devices have lagged in innovation compared to servers, with the Smart NIC and DPU accelerators running various workloads ranging from storage, virtualization to security. It’s time for the network to create a similar innovating leap into accelerated networking. 

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company has launched the CX 10000, which is the first product to enter the market for this class of device. It combines HPE Aruba’s networking IP, such as Fabric Composer and switch expertise, and Pensando’s DPU to address various new deployment models.

We expect that by 2025, the market for these accelerated class devices will exceed $10B. More than fifteen years ago, the market made a transition to purpose-built products for the data center and campus. Today’s data center requirements are similarly pushing for new product classes and purpose-built products to address the need in a hybrid-cloud world compared to the legacy approaches used for the past decade-plus.

If we look at Aruba’s CX 10000 in a little more detail, several use cases geared toward colocation, hybrid-cloud, and security take center stage. With each use case, we note that the enterprise could no longer scale with the number of applications, the pools of data, nor the new multi-cloud environments. Contemporary architectures are needed to support applications and to allow the human in IT to scale. At the same time, we are in the early stages of netOps and secOps merging.  Today, this leads to early themes, but the next decade of networking must support this broader trend, and we view products, like Aruba’s CX 10000, as looking forward to the next ten years of networking design.