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Gartner’s Data Center And Cloud Networking Magic Quadrant Leaders

Mark Haranas

Here are the 11 data center and cloud networking leaders, challengers and visionaries in the world today, according to Gartner’s new Magic Quadrant.

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Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant For Data Center And Cloud Networking 

The networking world continues to evolve to meet the high cloud and as-a-service demands customers are scrambling for.

By the end of 2022, the number of enterprise network teams using a SaaS-based console to manage data center networks will increase by more than 10 times to over 1,500, according to Gartner’s new 2020 Magic Quadrant For Data Center and Cloud Networking. Another mega trend Gartner sees is that by 2023, more than 10 percent of large enterprises will be running on-premises public cloud infrastructure, such as AWS Outposts, in their private data centers, which is an increase from less than 1 percent in 2019.

One final trend key in the networking industry is that Gartner predicts by 2025, 20 percent of data center hardware switches will be procured via an as-a-service model -- up from nearly zero in early 2020. Cloud or cloud-inspired technologies are now heavily used inside enterprise data centers including virtualization and automation. Enterprises are searching for better programmability, automation, orchestration and data center interoperability in order to build private clouds or cloud-based data centers.

Here are the 11 market leading companies that made Gartner's 2020 Magic Quadrant For Data Center and Cloud Networking, along with assessments of each company's strengths and weaknesses in the space.

Gartner’s Data Center And Cloud Networking Methodology 

Gartner’s research evaluates data center and cloud networking hardware and software for enterprises that buy and manage their own data center networking infrastructure for installation on-premises or in colocation facilities. The research firm also looked at vendors ability to extend data center networking functionality onto public cloud providers to better manage hybrid cloud networks.

To be included on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Center and Cloud Networking, vendors must provide hardware and or software to address existing and emerging enterprise data center and cloud networking requirements. Vendors needed to at least three products such as a physical switch, virtual software switch, a network operating system (NOS), programmable fabric, network overlay software, centralized management or a turnkey integration with Ansible.

Companies also needed to have more than 1,000 enterprises data center networking customers, generate more than $60 million in annual networking sales, provide constant commercial support and maintenance for their data center products and must be relevant to enterprises on a global basis.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant ranks vendors on their ability to execute and completeness of vision and places them in four categories: Niche Players (low on vision and execution), Visionaries (good vision but low execution), Challengers (good execution but low vision) and Leaders (excelling in both vision and execution).

Leader: Cisco

The San Jose, Calif.-based longtime data center networking leader takes the top spot for execution on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, while ranking fourth for vision. Cisco offers arguably the largest networking portfolio in the industry including fabric management via Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) or Data Center Network Manager (DCNM), Nexus switches, and associated tools including Network Assurance Engine (NAE) and Network Insights. Gartner estimates that Cisco has around 45,000 enterprise customers worldwide. This year, Cisco has pulled the trigger on some major acquisitions as well as executive changes.

Strength: Cisco vision to improve analytics and automation aligns to emerging customer requirements, while it covers nearly all usage scenarios such as advanced routing and ultra-low-latency switching. The company has a massive global install base.

Weakness: The company’s solutions are more expensive than most competitors, based on Gartner inquiry and assessment of per-port costs. 

Leader: Arista Networks

As a perennial data center networking challenger to Cisco, Arista Networks ranks third in both execution and vision on the Magic Quadrant. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company provides its Universal Cloud Network (UCN) which includes 7000 series switches, Extensible Operating System (EOS), and CloudVision management and visibility platform. Gartner estimates that Arista Networks has more than 4,000 enterpriser data center networking customers globally. In a blockbuster deal, Arista acquired data center network standout Big Switch Networks in February.

Strength: Arista has strong support capabilities and is one of the few vendors on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant that doesn’t outsource technical support.

Weakness: The company has limited channel and sales resources in the midmarket, specifically outside of Europe and North America, which limits its reach to smaller customers.

Leader: Juniper Networks

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based longtime networking standout ranks fourth for execution on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for vision. Juniper Networks primary offering in the market its the QFX5000 and QFX10000 series switches, Junos OS and Contrail Enterprise Multicloud. With more than 7,000 enterprise data center networking customers worldwide, Gartner expects Juniper to invest heavily in Mist Systems to boost cloud-based management and its 400 Gbps strategy. In March, Juniper launched a new partner program, Juniper Enterprise+, to help drive channel sales in the enterprise space.

Strength: Historically relatively weak on the enterprise front, Gartner said Juniper is making large investments to grow its enterprise sales force.

Weakness: Juniper customers note poor support experiences including timeliness and quality, according to Gartner, while the company also has limited public cloud integrations for hybrid environments.

Challenger: Huawei

As a perennial “challenger” in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for data center networking, Huawei ranks second for execution on the 2020 quadrant, but near the bottom on the back for vision. The China-based technology and communications giant’s flagship offering is CloudFabric, which includes iMaster NCE Autonomous Network Management and Control System, and its CloudEngine series of switches. The company has more than 7,000 enterprise global customers in the data center and cloud networking market.

Strength: Last year, Huawei surpassed Cisco to lead the worldwide market in terms of combined data center port shipments for 10 Gbps and 25 Gbps. 

Weakness: The company has a limited install base and sales channel in North America, with Gartner estimating that less than 1 percent of existing customers are based in North America.

Visionary: VMware

VMware took the top spot on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for vision, while ranking among the middle of the pack for execution. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization superstar flagship offers in the market is its software network overlay NSX-T and vRealize Network Insight (vRNI) for management and troubleshooting. VMware, which is majority owned by Dell Technologies, has more than 6,000 enterprises data center networking customers. As the company doubles down on Kubernetes, VMware this week nabbed former Red Hat and Docker channel sales veteran Roger Egan.

Strength: VMware has a strong vision to provide an AWS-like experience that includes both on-premises and cloud locations with embedded automation and functionality including load balancing and security. 

Weakness: VMware’s NSX Data Center is very expensive which is why Gartner believes adoption has been limited to less than 10 percent of enterprise data center networking customers.

Visionary: Dell EMC

The worldwide market leader in storage, servers and hyperconverged data center infrastructure, Dell EMC ranks second for vision on the Magic Quadrant and among the middle of the pack for execution. The Round Rock, Texas-based company’s primary product in this market is PowerSwitch, which supports its own NOS and third-party NOSs including Cumulus and SONiC. Dell EMC’s fabric manager, SmartFabric Director, is co-engineered with VMware. Trailing only Cisco, Dell EMC has more than 20,000 data enter network customers globally. Founder and CEO Michael Dell told CRN this year that his company has never been in a better position to win market share from competitors.

Strength: Dell EMC’s vision and track record around open networking has enabled innovation and forced competitors to respond.

Weakness: The company’s networking portfolio has limited functionality for workloads in the public cloud or agility for an already-deployed data center environment.

Visionary: Cumulus Networks

Although Cumulus Networks ranks fifth for vision on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, the company placed last for execution. The company’s primary product is Cumulus Linux, a network operating system supported on certified switches such as Dell, Mellanox and others. Cumulus also offers its Cumulus Express hardware switches and NetQ software for visibility and troubleshooting. The company has around 1,500 enterprise customers in the market. Cumulus Networks was acquired by Nvidia, which is also ranked on Gartner’s quadrant, earlier this year.

Strength: The company’s expertise is well-aligned with customers who are implementing DevOps principals or treating network infrastructure as code.

Weakness: As one of the smallest vendors on Gartner’s list in revenue and coverage, Cumulus lacks several capabilities that enterprise desire including turnkey plug-ins for VMware vCenter, Microsoft Hyper-V and ServiceNow.

Visionary: HPE, Aruba 

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s enterprise networking subsidiary Aruba ranks among the middle of the pack for vision but near the bottom for execution on the Magic Quadrant. HPE Aruba’s flagship product in the market is Aruba CX, which includes NetEdit for fabric management, automation and visibility, CX series switches, and the AOS-CX operating system. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has more 6,000 enterprise data center networking customers. Last month, Aruba launched a new cloud-based edge networking solution, Aruba Edge Services Platform, that analyzes data across domains and identifies and solves issues before users notice any impact.

Strength: Aruba’s NetEdit, one of the few management products available natively as a mobile app, provides fabric management that helps network teams increase automation.

Weakness: AOS-CX has limited third-party automation and platform integrations such as lacking support for Puppet, Salt, vCenter and Hyper-V. Gartner also says customers report confusion over the company’s portfolio.

Niche Player: Nvidia, Mellanox Technologies

In a blockbuster data center acquisition this year, Nvidia acquired Mellanox Technologies for $7 billion. Gartner, which reviewed Mellanox prior to Nvidia’s acquisition in May, ranks Mellanox among the middle of the pack for execution and near the bottom for vision on the Magic Quadrant. Nvidia’s primary product in the market is its Spectrum Ethernet Switches which were acquired from Mellanox. The company offers Mellanox Onyx NOS and supports third-party NOSs including Cumulus and SONiC, with central management via Mellanox NEO software. Nvidia has around 3,000 enterprise data center networking customers.

Strength: The company’s portfolio fits the needs of VXLAN deployments and high-performance workloads, while Nvidia also offers network interface cards that can be managed by Mellanox NEO.

Weakness: Nvidia does not offer a modular chassis-based switch and has limited integrations to manage, troubleshoot and configure networking inside public cloud environments.

Niche Player: Extreme Networks 

Extreme Networks’ Agile Data Center offering includes multiple fabric offerings, hardware switches and the requisite management via Extreme Management Center. The San Jose, Calif.-based company ranks among the bottom of the pack for both execution and vision on the Magic Quadrant. Extreme has more than 6,000 enterpriser data center networking customers with plans to invest in as-a-service-based management. Last year, Extreme acquired networking specialist competitor Aerohive Networks for $210 million.

Strength: Extreme’s Fabric Automation provides simplified fabric functionality that is embedded in switches, eliminating the need for an external component to manage or purchase.

Weakness: The company’s portfolio has multiple switching lines and fabric management technologies from previous acquisitions, such as Avaya and Brocade, which chases customer confusion that Gartner believes increases suboptimal products selection and limits investment protection.

Niche Player: H3C Technologies

China-based H3C Technologies ranks in last place on the Magic Quadrant for vision and among the middle of the pack for execution. The company’s flagship offering is the Application-Driven Data Center (AD-DC), which includes physical and virtual S-series switches, Comware-based NOS software, SeerNetwork Architecture (SNA) Center for management and control, and Seer Engine for visibility. The company has around 2,000 enterprise customers in the data center networking market with an strategy around implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve operations.

Strength: H3C has solid market share in the Greater China region, while also providing top-notch pricing for data center switches.

Weakness: The company strategy is suited for large network environments in China, but does not align with mainstream enterprise customers outside the region. HC3 has limited reach and support for customers outside of Greater China. 

 

Mark Haranas

Mark Haranas is an assistant news editor and longtime journalist now covering cloud, multicloud, software, SaaS and channel partners at CRN. He speaks with world-renown CEOs and IT experts as well as covering breaking news and live events while also managing several CRN reporters. He can be reached at mharanas@thechannelcompany.com.

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