Microsoft Contributes SONiC to Linux Foundation & Nephio

By Matthew Vulpis, Content Contributor  |  April 20, 2022

Paving the Way for Simplification and Standards for Enterprise 5G Developers

The rise of digitalization has created a new wave of collaboration between peers and businesses that have sparked the rapid technological innovations becoming available today. Using new digital tools for innovation and collaboration, IT organizations can more easily and effectively develop new and improved products and digital services that can add ease and optimization to a business or a consumer's daily processes. As part of the transformation of enterprise IT, developers are increasingly turning to open-source software (OSS).

OSS is software that is distributed with its source code, making it available for use, modification, and distribution with its original rights. Source (News - Alert) code is the part of the software that most computer users don't ever see; it's the code computer programmers manipulate to control how a program or application behaves.

Normally, only programmers who have access to source code can change a program by adding to it, changing it, or fixing parts of it that aren't working properly. Open-source code, however, is usually stored in a public repository and shared publicly, meaning anyone can access the repository to use the code independently or contribute improvements to the design and functionality of the overall project.

Open-source projects embrace strong values of community, collaboration, and transparency, for the mutual benefit of the platform and its users.

This is revolutionary, not just evolutionary.

Two years ago, in 2020, the OSS market was valued at USD 12,720 million but is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.9 percent between now and 2027. The projections put the estimated market value at USD 44,090 million by 2027. The growth can be attributed to the rise of digitalization, and with more organizations realizing the benefits and beginning to adopt, OSS technology is only going to become more critical in the future.

Last week, the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced Microsoft has contributed Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC, an open-source networking operating system) to the Foundation. The Linux Foundation (News - Alert) provides a venue for the continued ecosystem, developer growth, and diversity, as well as collaboration across the open-source networking stack.

Created by Microsoft for its Azure data centers, SONiC's network operating system (NOS), which is based on Linux, runs on over 100 different switches from multiple vendors and ASICs. It offers a full suite of network functionality, like BGP and RDMA, that has been production-hardened in the data centers of some of the largest cloud service providers. It also offers teams the flexibility to create the network solutions they need while leveraging the collective strength of a large ecosystem and community.

The Linux Foundation will primarily focus on the software component of SONiC and continue to partner with Open Compute Platform (OCP) on aligning hardware and specifications like SAI (News - Alert).

“We are pleased to welcome SONiC to the Linux Foundation family of open networking projects,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge, and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “SONiC is a leader in open-source data center NOS deployments, and we're looking forward to growing its developer community.”

“Microsoft founded SONiC to bring high reliability and fast innovation to the routers in Azure cloud data centers. We created it as open source so the entire networking ecosystem would grow stronger. SONiC already runs on millions of ports in the networks of cloud scalers, enterprises, and fintech. The SONiC project is thrilled to be joining the Linux Foundation to take the community to its next jump in scale, participation, and usage,” said Dave Maltz, Technical Fellow and Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure Networking.

The announcement comes just days after the Linux Foundation announced the formation of another project, Nephio, in partnership with Google Cloud and leaders across the telecommunications industry. The Linux Foundation provides a venue for the continued ecosystem, developer growth, and diversity, as well as collaboration across the open-source ecosystems.

“Telecommunication companies are looking for new solutions for managing their cloud-ready and cloud-native infrastructures as well as their 5G networks to achieve the scale, efficiency, and high reliability needed to operate more cost-effectively,” said Amol Phadke, managing director, Telecom Industry Products & Solutions, Google Cloud. “We look forward to working alongside The Linux Foundation and our partners in the creation of Nephio to set an industry open standard for Kubernetes-based intent automation that will result in faster and better-connected cloud-native networks of the future.”

Nephio was formed to address the challenges of building, managing, and deploying scalable 5G networks across multiple edge locations, which is complex. Cloud Native Principles have come a long way, and as we see Cloud Service Providers collaborating with Telecom Service Providers and Enterprises, a new way of simplifying the automation of network functions is emerging.

Nephio aims to deliver carrier-grade, simple, open, Kubernetes-based cloud-native intent automation and common automation templates that materially simplify the deployment and management of multi-vendor cloud infrastructure and network functions across large-scale edge deployments.

Additionally, Nephio will enable faster onboarding of network functions to production, including provisioning of underlying cloud infrastructure with a true cloud-native approach, and reduce costs of adoption of cloud and network infrastructure.

Nephio has support from several founding organizations, including Service providers: Airtel, Bell Canada, Elisa, Equinix, Jio, Orange, Rakuten Mobile, TIM, TELUS (News - Alert), Vapor IO, Virgin Media O2, WINDTRE, as well as Network Function, Service, and Infrastructure Vendors: Aarna Networks, ARM, Casa-systems, DZS, Ericsson, F5, Intel, Juniper, Mavenir, Nokia (News - Alert), Parallel Wireless, VMware.

“"Collaboration across Telecom and Cloud Service Providers is accelerating, and we are excited to bring Nephio to the open-source community,” Joshipura also said. “As end-users demand end-to-end open-source solutions, projects like Nephio complement the innovation across LFN, CNCF, LF Edge for faster deployment of telecom network functions in a cloud-native world.” 

Edited by Erik Linask
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