By Kant Deshpande, Director, Product Management, Marvell
Disaggregation is the future
Disaggregation—the decoupling of hardware and software—is arguably the future of networking. Disaggregation lets customers select best-of-breed hardware and software, enabling rapid innovation by separating the hardware and software development paths.
Disaggregation started with server virtualization and is being adapted to storage and networking technology. In networking, disaggregation promises that any networking operating system (NOS) can be integrated with any switch silicon. Open source-standards like ONIE allow a networking switch to load and install any NOS during the boot process.
SONiC: the Linux of networking OS
Software for Open Networking in Cloud (SONiC) has been gaining momentum as the preferred open-source cloud-scale network operating system (NOS).
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 40% of organizations that operate large data center networks (greater than 200 switches) will run SONiC in a production environment.[i] According to Gartner, due to readily expanding customer interest and a commercial ecosystem, there is a strong possibility SONiC will become analogous to Linux for networking operating systems in next three to six years.
By Kishore Atreya, Director of Product Management, Marvell
Recently the Linux Foundation hosted its annual ONE Summit for open networking, edge projects and solutions. For the first time, this year’s event included a “mini-summit” for SONiC, an open source networking operating system targeted for data center applications that’s been widely adopted by cloud customers. A variety of industry members gave presentations, including Marvell’s very own Vijay Vyas Mohan, who presented on the topic of Extensible Platform Serdes Libraries. In addition, the SONiC mini-summit included a hackathon to motivate users and developers to innovate new ways to solve customer problems.
So, what could we hack?
At Marvell, we believe that SONiC has utility not only for the data center, but to enable solutions that span from edge to cloud. Because it’s a data center NOS, SONiC is not optimized for edge use cases. It requires an expensive bill of materials to run, including a powerful CPU, a minimum of 8 to 16GB DDR, and an SSD. In the data center environment, these HW resources contribute less to the BOM cost than do the optics and switch ASIC. However, for edge use cases with 1G to 10G interfaces, the cost of the processor complex, primarily driven by the NOS, can be a much more significant contributor to overall system cost. For edge disaggregation with SONiC to be viable, the hardware cost needs to be comparable to that of a typical OEM-based solution. Today, that’s not possible.