This transfer of the open-source network operating system Sonic to the Linux Foundation may spark increased corporate interest.
According to experts, the improvement and adoption of Sonic (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) could accelerate now that its development has been entrusted to the Linux Foundation. Until now, the open-source cloud networking software has been overseen by Microsoft, which has now ceded that role to the Linux Foundation. This change could promote greater use of the NOS, as more than 450,000 developers trust the Foundation for which they code, manage and advance open technology projects. The Linux Foundation will focus on the software side of Sonic and will continue to collaborate with the Open Compute Project on hardware developments and evolution of specifications like the Switch Abstraction Interface for routing and switching connectivity.
“This change is driven by the fact that the Linux Foundation is a center of gravity for the wider open source community, especially in enterprise,” said Dave Maltz, Technical Fellow and Vice President of Microsoft Azure Networking. “This is especially the case with any projects that companies are building IoT systems on, as many of them are hosted by the Linux Foundation,” Maltz added. “By delivering Sonic to the Linux Foundation, we’ll be participating in the same events, the same developer community, the hackathons alongside the people who build these enterprise IT environments, and that will help us better understand the needs of the business community, while familiarizing them with Sonic. We believe this will make Sonic much easier for businesses to adopt and use,” said Dave Maltz.
Modular, Sonic adapts to several use cases. (MS Credit)
Compatible with hundreds of providers
The Linux-based NOS developed by Microsoft decouples the networking software from the underlying hardware and allows it to run on switches and ASICs from more than 100 vendors. It supports a full suite of networking features, including the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) external route paging protocol, Remote direct memory access (RDMA), and Quality of Service ( Quality of Service, QoS). The Sonic community includes Dell, Arista, Nokia, Apstra, Alibaba, Comcast, Cisco, Broadcom, Juniper, Edgecore, Innovium, Nvidia-Mellanox and VMware. “Handing off Sonic development to the Linux Foundation is a good move for Sonic and good for the Sonic community,” said Brad Casemore, research vice president, Datacenter and Multicloud Networks for IDC. IDC projects that in 2025, revenue from Sonic-based data center Ethernet switches will be approximately $2.5 billion. “This figure does not include nascent campus sonic switching,” Casemore said. “Under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, Sonic will gain visibility, which will help it sustain and expand community engagement and contributions,” Casemore said. “Sonic should also expand to new use cases,” he added.
In a blog post, Mr. Casemore recently said that Sonic has evolved significantly since its inception. “Its progress has been fueled by a growing number of users, a vibrant open-source community, and a growing vendor ecosystem,” he noted. “Another factor explains Sonic’s broader appeal: many non-hyperscalers seek to emulate hyperscaler best practices, but they want to do it on their own terms, with technologies and products that are tailored, and suitable for their environments. and their needs,” Mr. Casemore said. “In this respect, Sonic meets their expectations, as it provides a Linux NOS that can be managed by the same automation and management tools, and even by the same teams that manage Linux servers. The resulting benefits include tool consolidation and consistency of operations across the data center infrastructure, which can translate to lower capital and operating costs,” M wrote. Casemore.
Sonic’s partners fall into different network categories. (MS Credit)
Reinforced marketing and support
Several Sonic customers, such as Comcast and eBay, use Sonic to manage data center operations. “Almost anyone who has a switch somewhere can run Sonic on top of that switch and thus include him in the same management systems they use for their servers or have access to management platforms newer edge network technologies,” explained Dave Maltz. “Sonic also allows companies to mix hardware without losing consistency in their software experience,” added Maltz. “This is really important, especially in today’s environment where supply chain challenges mean that the network provider may not have equipment available unless they place an order 52-60 weeks in advance. , literally,” the vice president of Microsoft Azure Networking said again. In the meantime, some barriers to adoption are falling. “One thing Sonic lacked was a company willing to write commercial support contracts,” Maltz said. “Now, several companies in the ecosystem are offering this type of paid support contract, which we believe will greatly facilitate the adoption of NOS by companies”.