Only a few days afterward, announcing that Microsoft would port its popular database software SQL Server to Linux, the company has released a Debian GNU/Linux-based open source operating system that runs on network switches and routers.
After joining the OCP (Open Compute Project), in 2014 Microsoft contributed the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) specification to it. This time, Microsoft has the software called SONiC — Software for Open Networking in the Cloud. This fully open source toolkit will allow you to take control of the networking hardware and overcome the limitations of network devices.
What is SONiC?
Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) is not hardware, but a collection of software networking components required to build network devices like switches with rich functionality. It can run on various switching platforms via the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) specification.
This OS is made to control the hardware according to your wish. Instead of relying on the company-made proprietary firmware, you can easily dictate how your devices work and define their tasks. Microsoft’s Linux-based toolkit is seen as a direct competition to white-box network operating systems from the companies like Dell, HP, and Cumulus Networks.
According to Azure CTO Mark Russinovich on Microsoft Azure’s blog, “SONiC is a collection of software networking components required to build network devices like switches.”
And he further mentions that, “it’s the final piece of the puzzle in delivering a fully open sourced switch platform that can share the same software stack across hardware from multiple switch vendors. SONiC is being joined by contributions from Arista, Broadcom, Dell and Mellanox.”
Since it is based on a modular architecture with a lean stack built for data center networking needs. The combination of SAI and SONiC enables cloud operators to take advantage of hardware innovation while giving them a framework to build upon an open source code for apps on the network switch and the ability to integrate with multiple platforms.
Microsoft has already deployed SONiC in its cloud data center infrastructure and production data centers. It is built on top of Microsoft’s previously released Linux-based ACS operating system.Most importantly, all the components of SONiC are available as open source, enabling community driven innovation in open networking.
However, SONiC isn’t a Linux distribution. Instead, it’s a Debian-based OS for networking; (collection of networking software) so needs to have a fully functional layer2/layer3 device. It needs Linux kernel 3.16 module and can support any Linux distribution.
You can download SONiC from the link below: