Technology market research firm Infonetics Research, now part of IHS Inc., has forecast that bare metal switches, which decouple hardware from software and offer greater agility and cost savings over traditional data center switches, will make up just under a quarter of all data center ports shipped worldwide in 2019, up from 11% in 2014. 

Infonetics' fourth quarter 2014 (4Q14) and year-end Data Center Network Equipment vendor market share, size and forecast report tracks data center Ethernet switches, bare metal Ethernet switches, Ethernet switches sold in bundles, application delivery controllers (ADCs) and wide area network (WAN) optimization products.

"Up till now, bare metal switching has been attractive mainly to the large cloud service providers (CSPs) like Google and Amazon who provide their own switch software integrated into data center orchestration and management platforms. But with vendors such as Dell and HP jumping into the mix with branded bare metal switches, adoption of bare metal switching is going to accelerate as tier 2 CSPs and large enterprises endeavor to achieve the nimbleness demonstrated by Google," said Cliff Grossner, Ph.D., directing analyst for data center, cloud and SDN at Infonetics Research.

Data Center Market Highlights

  • Global data center network equipment revenue — including data center Ethernet switches, ADCs and WAN optimization appliances (WOAs) — grew 8% in 2014 from 2013, to $11.2 billion
  • In the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14), the data center Ethernet switch market was up 5% sequentially, affected positively by CSP and financial institution spending
  • The ADC segment has grown consistently on a year-over-year basis for the last seven quarters
  • Interest in optimizing the WAN via software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is strong, but the WAN optimization segment has yet to return to long-term growth
  • 25GE ports will begin shipping in 4Q15, representing a new 25/100GE architecture for data center fabrics targeted at large CSPs, a key high-end market segment
  • Following double-digit increases in 2011 through 2014, long-term growth in the data center market is expected to slow down by 2019, braked by the migration to software-defined networking (SDN) and the shift to the cloud