Mellanox Technologies Announce Solutions for SONiC Deployments in Data Centers and Enterprises

Mellanox Technologies Announce Solutions for SONiC Deployments in Data Centers and Enterprises

By Arti Loftus, Special Correspondent  |  September 25, 2019

The Open Compute Project (OCP (News - Alert)), a collaborative community focused on redesigning hardware technology to efficiently support the growing demands on compute infrastructure, held its second annual Regional Summit this week in Amsterdam. This year’s theme was “Open. Together.”

The OCP summit saw Mellanox Technologies, a leading supplier of end-to-end Ethernet and InfiniBand smart interconnect solutions and services for data center servers and storage systems, report an industry-first. Mellanox is already a significant contributor to SONiC and has announced ASIC-to-Protocol (A2P) support offerings for customers running large deployments of the SONiC Network Operating System (NOS) on Mellanox SN2000 and SN3000 switches. Other network vendors either only offer switch hardware support when their switches are used with SONiC or do not support SONiC at all.

This makes Mellanox the first switch vendor to offer silver and gold-level A2P, hardware and software support, with training given for SONiC on Mellanox switches, including ASIC, SAI (News - Alert), switch system hardware, NOS, and networking protocols as well as their expanding portfolio of OCP SmartNICs in order to simplify the open networking in cloud, telecommunications, and enterprise data centers.

“SONiC is an amazingly versatile and scalable NOS for the data center, and Open Ethernet is an incredibly powerful concept,” said Amit Katz, Vice President of Ethernet Switches, Mellanox Technologies. “Every week we hear from more customers who want to combine the power of SONiC with the best-in-class switch silicon in Mellanox Spectrum. Our unique support offering and vast SONiC experience make this easy for new and existing SONiC customers.”

Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) is a fully open-sourced NOS for Ethernet switches that was first developed by Microsoft to run Azure, their global cloud and is now a Linux Foundation (News - Alert) open community project. SONiC is built on API, breaking down imposing switch software into smaller microservices-based containerized components which hasten innovation within the NOS and the data center by eliminating the vendor lock-in.

SONiC offers a full suite of network functions such as Equal-cost multi-path routing (ECMP), IPv6, Border Gateway (News - Alert) Protocol (BGP), Virtual Extensible LAN protocol (VXLAN), and Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) that has been implemented with great success in some of the largest data centers in the world.

Yousef Kahlidi, Corporate Vice President, Azure Networking at Microsoft (News - Alert) Corp. said, “SONiC delivers scalable and efficient cloud networking that offers one optimized NOS that runs on a variety of best-of-breed switches. Offering support for SONiC on their switches allows Mellanox to bring the benefits of SONiC to a larger customer segment.”

Mellanox lay the groundwork for the Open Ethernet concept to network degradation - the decrease in connectivity and response in speed throughout any network. Open Ethernet changes the ideals of the traditional switch systems, removing vendor lock-in. In doing so, Mellanox is enabling tier-2 cloud providers and larger enterprises that want to take advantage of open-source technologies and the R&D investments of hyper-scale cloud giants in a network environment supported by vendors.

Open Ethernet allows network operators the flexibility and full control to use any software on top of Ethernet switches which support a wide range of open network operating systems, including SONiC. This gives them the ability to optimize utilization, efficiency, and overall return on investment.

Using the same fundamentals as accepted open solutions for servers and storage, Mellanox applies them to the field of networking infrastructure to boost the ecosystem of open-source, standard network solutions. The solutions can then easily be deployed into modern data centers across network equipment that improves management and provides full interoperability.

Also, Mellanox is initiating SONiC starter kits that are built around testing and verified use-cases with straightforward switch configurations, topology guides, test plans, and Ansible scripts to further speed up initial SONiC deployments and the adoption of open-source data center automation across cloud and enterprise customers.

The Mellanox Academy is also providing SONiC training with a SONiC certification program, aimed at network engineers that want to become qualified with cloud-scale tools and operations.

"Meituan is deploying SONiC in production because it is a non-proprietary, open NOS that has the features and scale we need for our cloud data centers," said Lei Zheng, Leader of the SONiC team at Meituan. “SONiC works well on Mellanox, and it gives us full network visibility features needed to operate a modern data center. We are extremely excited that our upcoming SONiC deployment will be fully supported by a world-class networking company like Mellanox.”

Mellanox will be showcasing SONiC on Spectrum switches with hardware-accelerated telemetry at the 2019 OCP Summit event in Amsterdam, September 26-27. 


Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Ken Briodagh