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SONiC Powers Big Switch Open Source Network OS Demo

Big Switch Networks is the latest industry player to showcase new-age networking wares based on integration with the Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) project.

The Santa Clara, Calif., "cloud-first networking company" last week announced the demonstration of an open source network operating system (NOS) at an industry conference.

The demo OS combines the Big Switch-championed Open Network Linux (ONL) with SONiC, an open source software initiative founded by Microsoft and now under the direction of the Open Compute Project (OCP). Microsoft uses it with its Azure public cloud platform for reported benefits such as quicker innovation, more vendor choice and reduced cost.

Microsoft described SONiC as: "a collection of networking software components required to have a fully functional L3 device. It is designed meet the requirements of a cloud data center."

Big Switch went into more detail about SONiC:

SONiC is a uniquely extensible and flexible platform that has multiple innovations to help build a high-performant, available and flexible network at scale. SONiC is built on the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI), which defines a standardized APIs for hardware vendors to implement. This enables a unified NOS solution for forwarding and can help customers leverage advancements in silicon, port density, optics etc. much faster without replacing the software stack. With a modular, containerized architecture, SONiC offers flexibility to create customized packages by picking components as needed as well as extend the packages with new components with minimum effort. SONiC also offers monitoring and diagnostic capabilities such as failure detection, fault correlation, and automatic recovery mechanisms.

The full structure of the Open NOS was described as:

  • Open Network Linux (ONL) is the base Platform OS, including ONLP Platform APIs, for 100+ white-box/brite-box platforms
  • Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) provides forwarding management, Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI), interface management, telemetry and APIs
  • Free Range Routing (FRR), is the L3 control plane protocol engine (BGP, OSPF etc.)

Big Switch said benefits of an open source NOS used for next-gen network build-outs include:

  • Innovation velocity: open-source ecosystem, which drives faster innovation in the market
  • Increased flexibility: More seamlessly adapt to evolving and ever-changing business requirements and technology advancements without vendor dependency
  • Freedom of choice: Elimination of vendor lock-in as a result of increased choice across a variety of open networking hardware platforms
  • Reduced cost: Meaningful reduction of TCO compared to closed solutions

Big Switch wasn't the only major networking vendor showing of SONiC-powered wares at last week's OCP Global Summit, as Juniper Networks, known for software-defined networking (SDN) offerings central to the sofware-centric movement, announced the native integration of its platform with SONiC.

Big Switch said its demo was designed to highlight automation and visibility in a full-stack open source NOS for a 3-tier BGP fabric running on open networking hardware (often called white-box/brite-box). Demo examples included:

  • Configuration automation and visibility with Ansible
  • Zero-touch installation and visibility via an SDN controller
  • Ease of deploying a BGP switching fabric with 10G, 25G and 100G open networking switches from Edgecore Networks, leveraging Broadcom's industry-leading StrataXGS Trident II and StrataXGS Tomahawk networking ASICs

"Since 2014 the market has been shifting towards open, flexible, software-driven solutions," the company quoted Alan Weckel, founder and principal analyst at 650 Group, as saying in a statement. "Open source projects, such as Open Network Linux, are helping to drive this shift away from closed networking. Open Network Linux and SONiC, when coupled together create a powerful, open Network Operating Systems, ideal for service providers, SaaS and cloud providers."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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