You were supposed to sing that title to the Everly Brothers, by the way.
A server is a box with CPU cores, memory, flash, and storage.
A storage array is a box with CPU cores, memory, flash, and storage.
A network switch is a box with CPU cores, memory, flash, and storage.
In the old days (last year), the storage and the network switch were LOADED with specialized CPU cores running "embedded" software/firmware. Now they run Intel cores running application code (and an OS).
The "function" that those systems execute are in fact, software defined. If then, go to.
Thus, really, what's the difference between a white box server and storage array or a switch? Ports? Capacity? Big deal.
The difference is the software function that is defined to execute on the various personalities involved. It's not the hardware anymore.
Switching is a software function. Software-defined networking is just that - define the function - notably a transient PATH one elects to take based on actual application requirements - creating it, executing it, and repeating. Why not just perform that function in software? Matter of fact, why not just perform it at the server itself - and screw the switch altogether? The whole idea of the core/edge hierarchical switch architecture seems way last century with todays CPU capabilities. Why not have a flat horizontal network that gets fatter when necessary - based on application requirements? Scale out networking - no need for scale up.
Same for storage. That's what the whole industry has been building anyhow. White box servers called storage with software that defines its behavior.
Thus, if this is accurate, who stands to gain? Server guys. Intel. Dell. HP. IBM - as they build servers. New software companies who are rewriting the rules of device personality and behavior. Who stands to lose? Specialists - Cisco, NetApp, EMC, etc.
Don't panic, EMC isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Things take forever to evolve in this space. However, it sure seems like the white box era is going to be upon us and that EVENTUALLY those who have dominated the last 50 years of commercial computing will be ripe for upheaval - in the same way that Amazon smoked the retail space.
Think about this - NO ONE develops applications the same way as they did just a few years ago (which they did for decades). People develop new apps for the DevOps hyper-scale, Mobile markets - not client server. Web scale/Hyper scale/Google scale, blah blah blah, means that EVERYTHING changes - from your app to your infrastructure. White boxes and pizza trays full of storage. As traditional enterprises begin to write NEW applications, they are going to start writing them in the new world order - with new (kid) coders - who don't worry about C++. And they sure as hell don't care about specialty disk arrays and switches. They care about clouds and cores. The cool kids don't know what a Bin file is.
The first electronic communication technology to be adopted widespread was the telegraph. It lasted a long, long time. Then came the telephone and in 10 years, the telegraph went away. That industry lasted DECADES with a few players dominating and taking all the money. Then the cell phone happened. Then Apple happened. Now kids don't even know how to use the telephone application on their mobile device. 100 years of electronic communication, with 98% of the innovation occurring in the last 5. Crazy how slow moving markets become insanely frenetic "eventually."
It can happen.