Thursday, 10 March 2016 08:39

Microsoft announces Debian-based software for networking Featured

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Is Microsoft planning another major "embrace, extend and extinguish" campaign? That is the question that arises after news emerged that it would be launching Linux-based tools based on Debian GNU/Linux for networking.

The story broke in the Register shortly after news of another open-source push by Redmond – the release of a toolset for Visual Studio to make working with the R language easy. A few days back, Microsoft announced it would port SQL Server to Linux by mid-2017.

The Linux for network switches is dubbed Software for Open Networking in the Cloud or SONiC and was announced at the Open Compute Summit in San Jose, California, on Wednesday US time, by Microsoft Azure chief Mark Russinovich, him of Sony rootkit fame.

"SONiC is a collection of software networking components required to build network devices like switches," Russinovich wrote.

"Together with SAI (the Switch Abstraction Interface, a common C interface), SONiC will enable 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 gain the ability to integrate with multiple platforms.

"In short, we believe 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."

Kamala Subramanian, Microsoft's principal architect for Azure Networking, said SONiC was a collection of software networking components needed to build network devices like switches with rich functionality.

"It is based on a modular architecture with a lean stack built for data centre networking needs. SONiC will enable 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. SONiC is not just prototyped software but deployed today and planned to run at scale in the future," she wrote.

Microsoft's push towards co-opting open source has intensified ever since Satya Nadella took over as chief executive. Last September, Microsoft released a cloud-based Linux operating system known as Azure Cloud Switch. And in December, the company announced that it was endorsing Debian GNU/Linux in its Azure marketplace.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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