Open Ethernet applies to switch systems that are not locked-in to a specific software vendor Network OS. Unlike proprietary switches that force customers to accept the associated software and support provided by the switch vendor, Open Ethernet switches can be made available with several OS options or even OS free and with selective support package upon customer's preference, all of which are being offered on the same hardware platform from the software and/or hardware vendors.
Open Ethernet switches are designed to comply with different types of Network Operating Systems. Moreover, if there are new Network Operating Systems available in the future, Open Ethernet ensures (via standard API) that the switch system will be compatible to migrate from one software package to another.
Open Ethernet switches come pre-installed with ONIE (Open Network Install Environment), a boot loader that provides an environment to install any Network OS on a bare metal switch system. ONIE allows end-users to automate the installation of the Network OS as part of data center provisioning similar to the way Linux servers are managed.
ONIE is an Open Compute Project (OCP) open source initiative contributed by Cumulus Networks.