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SONiC is Now Adoption-Ready for Organizations of All Sizes

Future-Proof Your Network by Adopting SONiC

Adopting the SONiC NOS can be transformative for organizations of any size. We can help you integrate SONiC into your existing tech stack while prioritizing successful business outcomes.

Hardware Nation and SONiC NOS

Increase network flexibility, reduce costs, and minimize risk with True SONiC, our integrated approach to production-ready SONiC OS adoption.

What is SONiC?

SONiC, also known as Software for Open Networking in the Cloud, is a Debian Linux-based open-source network operating system developed by Microsoft in 2016 in response to the expanding size and increasing complexity of its Azure Network. This solution was crucial for streamlining its underlying switching and routing, helping the cloud provider meet its objectives. At it’s foundation, SONiC is a cloud networking NOS, emphasizing simplicity and scalability, aimed at providing network administrators with more control and agility. It is a multi-layer containerized software facilitating easier updates and more segregated control of switch features. Despite its initial slow start, even with the monumental efforts from Microsoft and Alibaba, SONiC has seen rapid growth in recent years, with a flourishing ecosystem and contributors including at least 8 Fortune 500 companies, most data center component suppliers, and the leading routing companies.

A majority of hardware vendors and nearly all ASICs have embraced SONiC, enabling multi-vendor deployments. Vendor-agnostic toolsets and frameworks are available for seamless migration, integration, deployment, management, and support of all platforms and NOSes from a single pane of glass.

Built on the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) API, SONiC’s architecture offers a vendor-independent way to uniformly control forwarding elements like ASICs and NPUs, making it ideal for advanced network architectures, including multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

Explore all the SONiC supported platforms.

According to Gartner®, by 2025, 30% of organizations that operate large data center networks (more than 250 switches) will run SONiC in some portion of their production environments and increase of over 10x from late 2022.

Modernize Your Network with SONiC

Is your legacy network holding you back? SONiC offers freedom of choice and cost reduction by decoupling the network software from the hardware, but it can also introduce complexity.

To address the challenges of SONiC adoption, we offer True SONiC, our end-to-end suite of services that includes business strategy, ecosystem guidance, hardware procurement, professional network and infrastructure services, and ongoing 24/7, level 1 to 3 support. Our turn-key solution makes SONiC accessible to businesses of any size, even those with small IT teams or limited access to specialized engineering resources. Our approach stays true to the promise of open flexibility and TCO reduction while mitigating uncertainties that can hinder SONiC deployments.

We apply deep SONiC engineering expertise, proven practices, and visionary strategy to help you overcome SONiC challenges and successfully adopt and deploy it in your network, ensuring your infrastructure’s readiness for the future and reducing dependency on proprietary solutions.

What is SONiC?

SONiC, also known as Software for Open Networking in the Cloud, is a Debian Linux-based open-source network operating system developed by Microsoft in 2016 in response to the expanding size and increasing complexity of its Azure Network. This solution was crucial for streamlining its underlying switching and routing, helping the cloud provider meet its objectives. At it’s foundation, SONiC is a cloud networking NOS, emphasizing simplicity and scalability, aimed at providing network administrators with more control and agility. It is a multi-layer containerized software facilitating easier updates and more segregated control of switch features. Despite its initial slow start, even with the monumental efforts from Microsoft and Alibaba, SONiC has seen rapid growth in recent years, with a flourishing ecosystem and contributors including at least 8 Fortune 500 companies, most data center component suppliers, and the leading routing companies.

A majority of hardware vendors and nearly all ASICs have embraced SONiC, enabling multi-vendor deployments. Vendor-agnostic toolsets and frameworks are available for seamless migration, integration, deployment, management, and support of all platforms and NOSes from a single pane of glass.

Built on the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) API, SONiC’s architecture offers a vendor-independent way to uniformly control forwarding elements like ASICs and NPUs, making it ideal for advanced network architectures, including multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.

Explore all the SONiC supported platforms.

According to Gartner®, by 2025, 30% of organizations that operate large data center networks (more than 250 switches) will run SONiC in some portion of their production environments and increase of over 10x from late 2022.

Built on the standardized Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) API layer, SONiC’s unique architecture offers a vendor-independent way to uniformly control forwarding elements like ASICs and NPUs, making it ideal for a variety of network architectures and use cases, including enterprise, cloud, data center, AI, and the edge.

SONiC NOS Benefits

Why Production-Ready SONiC?

Production-ready SONiC distributions take the inherent benefits of open-source SONiC and augment them with reliability, accessibility, support, and tailored features, making them particularly suitable for mission-critical network environments.

Single Point of Accountability

The ecosystem has now matured to a level where a single point of accountability is available for seamless support, encompassing hardware, software, and network visibility, on par with traditional vendors.

Advanced Management Tools

The ecosystem has now has several vendors offering advanced management tools for SONiC, which are vendor-agnostic, enabling seamless integration with traditional vendors like Arista, Dell, Cisco, and NVIDIA.

Lower Cost

Get significant CapEx and OpEx savings over traditional networking with white-box switches and open-source SONiC.

Greater Flexibility & Control

Control how you use the open-source software by investing only in the features you need, and reduce risk by not having to rely on a single hardware vendor.

Production Hardened NOS

SONiC is production hardened in data centers of the world’s leading hyperscalers and offers a full-suite of network functionality, like BGP and RDMA.

High Performance & Faster Scalability

Get high performance and faster scalability with SONiC, designed to maximize hardware performance while leveraging enterprise tools and automation

Why Production-Ready SONiC?

Production-ready SONiC distributions take the inherent benefits of open-source SONiC and augment them with enhanced reliability, support, and tailored features, making them particularly suitable for mission-critical network environments. We support all SONiC distributions, enterprise or open-source.

Disaggregation and flexibility

Offers expanded hardware choice, validated by the vendor for streamlined deployment, and avoids vendor lock-in.

Openness and programmability

Maintains open standards while providing pre-built integrations and specialized features for easier use and extended functionality.

Rapid innovation and customization

Leverages community advancements with a focus on stability, offering vendor-specific optimizations.

Cost savings and operational efficiency

Reduction in CAPEX/OPEX, plus streamlined deployment, automation, management, and enterprise support.

According to Gartner®, by 2025, 30% of organizations that operate large data center networks (more than 250 switches) will run SONiC in some portion of their production environments, an increase of over 10x from late 2022.​

How Hardware Nation Can Help

SONiC can be transformative for your organization, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Since 2017, our seasoned network engineers have deployed solutions powered by Cumulus Linux, Pica8, IP Infusion, and SONiC. We have navigated deployment challenges, gaining a deep understanding of risks and roadblocks associated with open networking. Our expertise and ties within the ecosystem, including hardware vendors such as Edge-Core, Arista, NVIDIA, Celestica, Dell, and UfiSpace, position us uniquely to guide your SONiC adoption.

SONiC NOS can be a game changer for your organization, but realizing its full value requires a trusted partner. Our team of multi-vendor experts can offer guidance and assess whether SONiC is right for your organization’s unique needs. We are partnered with industry-leading open networking vendors, and our prior real-world experience implementing open networking solutions enables us to identify the best solutions based on prior use cases. We guide customers through every stage of the implementation process, from discovery to consultation, roadmap creation, adoption, implementation, and management. Our experts, with their diverse backgrounds in networking, security, cloud, and other key areas, help determine the most effective approach to implementing an open networking solution, bridging the gap between emerging and traditional technologies.

How Hardware Nation can help

SONiC NOS can be a game changer for your organization, but realizing its full value requires a trusted partner. Our team of multi-vendor experts can offer guidance and assess whether SONiC is right for your organization’s unique needs. We are partnered with industry-leading open networking vendors, and our prior real-world experience implementing open networking solutions enables us to identify the best solutions based on prior use cases. We guide customers through every stage of the implementation process, from discovery to consultation, roadmap creation, adoption, implementation, and management. Our experts, with their diverse backgrounds in networking, security, cloud, and other key areas, help determine the most effective approach to implementing an open networking solution, bridging the gap between emerging and traditional technologies. Below are some benefits of working with Hardware Nation:

Experience

With years of open networking experience and deep expertise in data center infrastructure, connectivity, cybersecurity, and cloud solutions across diverse industries, we ensure smooth integration across your entire technology stack.

Partnerships

We have deep relationships with the top disaggregate hardware, software, and solutions vendors.

End-to-End Capabilities 

Our team of network architects builds next-gen networks tailored to your unique use case and provides end-to-end solutions from discovery to deployment and management.

Vendor Neutrality

We follow a vendor and technology-agnostic approach to ensure you get the best holistic solution based on your needs.

Ecosystem

We work closely with our trusted ecosystem partners to deliver SONiC solutions tailored to your unique needs.

The many benefits of SONiC, once exclusive to hyperscalers, are now within reach for enterprise clients. Contact our team of seasoned networking experts to learn why right now is a transformative time in the industry as we move closer to wider SONiC adoption.

Frequently Asked Questions

SONiC is a Linux-based, open-source network operating system (NOS) designed for cloud-scale environments. It runs on switches from multiple vendors, offering production-hardened features like BGP and RDMA. SONiC’s containerized architecture and Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) ensure flexibility and hardware independence.

SONiC’s open-source nature, thriving community, containerized architecture, and white box hardware compatibility empower businesses with freedom of choice, cost savings, and greater agility.

SONiC is absolutely ready for production in the right scenarios. However, the best answer for you depends on your specific use case and requirements. It has matured significantly as a network operating system and is being used in production environments for a variety of use cases. With our True SONiC approach, we strategize and go into the details of your use case and business needs before committing to piloting SONiC.

 

SONiC’s core strength lies in data center fabrics, its original design focus, but its rapidly growing community is driving feature development at an accelerated pace, making it increasingly versatile for use in data center interconnect, LAN, enterprise, telco, and edge computing applications.

With the right partner, organizations of any size, including those with limited engineering resources or specialized SONiC expertise, can successfully adopt SONiC. It is recommended to choose a partner with experience deploying open networks.

SONiC is well-suited for small deployments due to its modularity, open-source nature, vendor flexibility, available community support, and a growing ecosystem of vendors supporting deployments of all sizes.

SONiC is not typically pre-installed on platforms. This gives you the flexibility to either install SONiC yourself or leverage the expertise of a professional services company like Hardware Nation. We offer the following options to meet your specific needs:

  • Self-Installation: If you have in-house SONiC expertise, you can source the appropriate SONiC image and install it directly on your chosen hardware.
  • Hardware Nation Installation: For a streamlined experience, we can install the selected SONiC image, along with any necessary configurations, ensuring a smooth and efficient deployment.
  • True SONiC: With our True SONiC solution, we’ll pre-install the image for a turnkey, ready-to-deploy experience.

Yes, there are many distributions of SONiC. Here’s an overview: 

  • Community SONiC: Free, open-source, and community-driven, offering flexibility for customization and experimentation.

  • Enterprise SONiC: Enhanced with stability, features, and vendor support for production-ready deployments. Costs may vary based on the vendor’s model.

  • Hardware Nation’s True SONiC: A turnkey solution with everything you need, including guidance, hardware procurement, professional services, and ongoing suppport, simplifying SONiC adoption.

When choosing a SONiC distribution, make sure to balance your need for development flexibility (community SONiC) against the requirement for production stability and vendor support (enterprise SONiC), considering factors like cost and desired support level.

The core SONiC software is free and open-source, while vendor-specific distributions may have varying licensing models, with some offering free versions and others requiring fees for the distribution itself or for support.

Whether your SONiC implementation will be considered turnkey depends on your chosen approach:

  • Community SONiC: This requires in-house expertise to select hardware, install the image, and handle configurations, making it less turnkey.

  • Enterprise SONiC: Some vendors offer more integrated solutions, but the level of pre-configuration and ‘turnkey’ ease still varies.

  • Solutions like Hardware Nation’s True SONiC: Our solution is specifically designed to be turnkey – hardware, pre-installed image, professional services, and ongoing support are bundled, minimizing setup effort on your end.

Absolutely, vendor-supported SONiC distributions often lead to substantial TCO savings compared to traditional networking approaches, even when factoring in potential costs associated with value-added features. The reduction comes from minimizing or eliminating licensing fees, the flexibility to select hardware, and vendor-specific enhancements that can significantly accelerate time to deployment and ROI. We work with you to understand the different licensing models, assess the value of vendor-added features, and balance those against your needs for stability, professional services, and support to build a SONiC strategy that maximizes your ROI.

Yes, SONiC is highly effective for AI workloads. Our True SONiC approach enables you to manage workloads similar to hyperscalers by orchestrating RoCE (RDMA over Converged Ethernet) across GPU clusters. This flexibility supports AI and data-intensive tasks on network switches ranging from 1G to 800G.

Learn more about our approach to SONiC.
Quickly identify your needs and craft a plan of action with help from our seasoned experts.

Contact us for a live SONiC demo