SONiC: Microsoft’s Open Source Network OS

[German]Microsoft is also engaged in Open Source – and they develop internally an Open Source network operating system for Cloud applications, called SONiC. Here is some information.


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Recently there was a message (see here) that Microsoft was added to the Linux security mailing list. I had taken notice of that, but didn’t mention it in the blog. And then there was the very old blog German post Wenn die Hölle zufriert: Microsoft macht in Linux from November 2015. At that time I had reported that Microsoft developed its own Linux operating system. It was about the self-maintained Linux core for the Azure Cloud Switch (ACS). Quote from my article at that time:

The Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) is our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches. It is a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux. ACS allows us to debug, fix, and test software bugs much faster. It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our datacenter and our networking needs.

Und plötzlich wurde mir das Thema wieder vor die Füße gespült, so dass ich es kurz aufgreifen möchte.

SONiC: Software for Open Networking in the Cloud

And suddenly the topic was flushed before my feet again, so that I would like to take it up briefly.

Greenberg links to this article from DataCenter Knowledge, which highlights some backgrounds. The open source network operating system developed by Microsoft is based (besides Linux) on the SAI switch programming API (SAI stands for Switch Abstraction Interface). This seems to be the next hot thing in the Open Source area, which will spread beyond data center operators into the world of telcos, large enterprises and maybe one day even small and medium-sized enterprises.


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Network devices support SONiC

According to DataCenter Knowledge, Microsoft has convinced network device vendors to support SONiC. Almost 70 percent of these hardware platforms now support the operating system. This also applies to ARM systems. The first non-Microsoft users of SONiC were other hyperscalers such as Alibaba and Tencent.

But the user base is expanding as more and more companies seek the benefits of network disaggregation. The dynamics are fuelled by the introduction of new features in the open source project, such as configuration management and the integration of Cubernetes, as well as the spread of commercial and enterprise-wide support by traditional enterprise network vendors.

Open source software-controlled networks are trendy and growing in popularity. According to analysts of the 650 Group, there will be a market of 1.35 billion dollars by 2023 (excluding hyperscalers). Until then, growth will average 33 percent per year. Microsoft’s broad market trends and activities around the SONiC project position it well. It can be assumed that SONIC will soon develop into a mainstream technology.


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