|Industry||Cloud Networking, Open White Box Enterprise Networking|
|James Liao, CEO & co-founder |
Lin Du, VP of Engineering & co-founder
Niraj Jain, VP of Business
|Products||Software -- Linux-based NOS, automated switch configuration|
Pica8, Inc. is a computer networking company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. Pica8 is a vendor of open-standards-based operating systems on white box network switches delivering software-defined networking (SDN) solutions for datacenter and cloud computing environments and traditional L2/L3 solutions for large enterprise customers. The company's products include a Linux-based L2/L3 and OpenFlow-supporting network operating system, PICOS, which is shipped as standalone software that can be loaded onto a range of 1/10/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet switches based on commoditized ("white box") switches purchased from original design manufacturers (ODMs).
The company's approach is to combine commodity network hardware (from manufacturers like Accton, Foxconn, Quanta) with Debian Linux, L2/L3 protocol stacks, a full enterprise feature set, OpenFlow controller and Open vSwitch (OVS) to create both a more "democratic" SDN solutions with competitive price compared to conventional embedded switches as well as more flexible and scalable disaggregated enterprise white box networking solutions.
In 2010, Pica8 was selling 48-port gigabit Ethernet and 10-gigabit Ethernet switches at half the price of comparable products of Force10 and Arista Networks. It achieved such result through combining open source software with merchant ASICs (from companies like Broadcom, Marvell, and Intel/Fulcrum) on switches from "white-box vendors".
In July 2011, Pica8 added support for the open source "Indigo" OpenFlow stack from Big Switch Networks to its switches as an alternative stack. In November 2011 it embedded Open vSwitch (OVS), developed by Nicira, into its operation system PicOS to enable more sophisticated network management from inside the switch.
In October 2012 Pica8 raised $6.6m in Series A funding from VantagePoint Capital Partners to support its sales and product development. On 10 December 2012 the company exited stealth mode with introduction of SDN reference architecture aimed at cloud providers.
In December 2013, the company launched the Pica8 SDN Starter Kit, an "out-of-the-box" kit that includes an open-source network controller, a programmable network tap, an open-source network intrusion detection system, and other components meant to give customers a complete SDN solution, which would be quick to implement.
By 2018, Pica8 grew to over 1,000 customers in over 40 countries, announcing a broad push into the enterprise campus and branch office markets in January.
PICOS (formerly known as XorPlus) is a network operating system (NOS) that Pica8 has developed based on XORP, an eXtensible Open Router Platform. The operation system works on an unmodified Linux kernel and is extended with a range of network and switching services.
PICOS includes a traditional Layer-2 / Layer-3 switching mode (L2/L3 Mode) and has support for OpenFlow protocol, standardized by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), through Open vSwitch (OVS). OVS runs as a process on the Debian Linux distribution.
Additionally, PICOS has a hardware abstraction layer that lets it run atop networking ASICs from various switch silicon manufacturers. Therefore, the PICOS operating system can be unaware ("agnostic") about the underlying hardware and not tied to it.
In addition to PICOS, Pica8 offers a second core technology solution called PicaPilot, which was announced in May 2018. PicaPilot is an automated white box switch configuration and management application that runs on Pica8-enabled switches alongside PICOS. Designed as a replacement for legacy Ethernet switch stacks and chassis switches, PicaPilot compresses dozens of access- and aggregation-layer leaf-spine topology switches into a single layer and allows them to be managed as a single logical switch with a single consolidated IP address.
On 10 November 2014 Pica8 announced CrossFlow, a new feature in the PICOS NOS that enables network managers to integrate OpenFlow applications and business policies with existing layer 2/layer 3 networks. Users can run layer 2/layer 3 protocols and OpenFlow protocols on all the switch ports in a network at the same time. OpenFlow can be used for policy-driven applications to bring business logic to the network. The traditional network can optimize packet transport and performance with protocols, such as OSPF, Spanning Tree, and BGP.