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Debunking 5 Common Myths About SONiC

In the ever-evolving world of networking, SONiC NOS (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) has emerged as a game-changer for data center and edge networks. However, like any technology, SONiC has not been immune to myths and misconceptions. When we talk to users evaluating SONiC for their network, we often hear… “SONiC is not ready for us, at least just yet”. In this blog, we’ll debunk five common myths about SONiC.

1. SONiC is not ready for the Enterprise

Myth:  One of the most common things we hear is that SONiC does not have features such as EVPN, or MC-LAG, and users are not comfortable about its quality standards. It is also difficult to integrate with our existing NetOps tools.

Reality: The table below gives a good high-level overview of what is already available for use cases across various network architectures. This list is evolving very fast, and if you follow the SONiC community then with-in next few months this list will increase in use cases, as well as in vendors who support those use cases.

Use Case Essential Protocols Supported By
IP CLOS  BGP Unnumbered Most vendors
AI Fabric RoCE Several vendors
IP CLOS w/EVPN EVPN T1 to T6 Several vendors
Edge & Campus MLAG, 802.1x, STP, POE Several vendors

To see evidence of whether or not SONiC has the support for the above capabilities, and try them out on any hardware sourced from ANY of the white-box vendors, you can schedule a demo in our ONE Center. We will not only walk you through each of the available options, but also show how SONiC can be easily integrated within your existing NetOps environment. 

At Aviz Networks we help accelerate SONiC Community feature development, and we work with customers to develop the features they need and give them back to the community. Essentially, Aviz is bringing a paradigm-shifting new concept to market called “Roadmap By-pass”, where customers get the features they need, when they need it,  in a more agile fashion instead of a single vendor prioritizing their own desires or for the “highest bidder”.

2. Deploying Community SONiC requires an army of Network Engineers

Myth:  One of the most persistent myths about SONiC is that it is exclusively designed for hyperscalers who have access to a large pool of network engineering expertise in-house. While the NOS offers powerful networking capabilities, it’s not a simple-to-deploy solution for all environments.

Reality: Yes, SONiC does require a good understanding of networking principles, SDN concepts, and the knowledge of hardware compatibility, but the fact is a vast majority of large to medium enterprises have already deployed SONiC using their existing teams with an added bonus of a little external help. Companies like eBay, have benefited immensely both in terms of cost savings and the flexibility of innovation by deploying SONiC on white-box switches. The market leadership brief by Futuriom lists down how Networking users can accomplish similar feat. According to publicly accessible information on the SONiC community page, numerous enterprises including Comcast, eBay, Target, and Bloomberg have either deployed SONiC or are currently in the process of doing so.

At Aviz, we have been helping enterprises of all sizes with purpose-built automation tools and data normalization solutions that make the SONiC deployment and operations quick and smooth. 

You can discover the magic behind eBay and some of our other rapidly expanding SONiC deployments by checking out our ‘Open Networking Enterprise Suite (ONES)’ and requesting a demo. 

ONES is not only helping large enterprises with their SONiC deployments, but dozens of small to medium enterprises in their own migration to SONiC. So, in reality, you don’t  need an army of in-house engineers with PHDs, so long as you leverage the right resources and partners like Aviz who is dedicated to your success and SONiC’s future.

Recently we went one step further to put AI to use for easier migration towards SONiC. Our latest solution Network Copilot™ is designed to generate templates for easy transition.

3. Community SONiC POCs are challenging, and procurement process is a mess

Myth:  A lot of people assume that conducting Proof of Concepts (POCs) with SONiC can be a challenging endeavor, often compounded by a complex and cumbersome procurement process. The versatility SONiC offers for a diverse array of supported hardware and configurations, make it challenging to select the right components for your use cases. Additionally, navigating the procurement process, which involves evaluating multiple vendors, and negotiating contracts, can be overwhelming and time-consuming.

Reality: SONiC’s open-source nature allows organizations to break free from vendor lock-in and choose best-of-breed components from various hardware vendors, tailoring their network to specific needs. Conducting a multi-vendor POC with SONiC can appear to be a complex undertaking, especially when you first start to think about what it takes for a successful deployment:

    • Selecting hardware vendors

    • Testing for performance and feature requirements

    • Scalability per your specific use cases

    • Ensuring interoperability with your existing ecosystem of infrastructure and tools

Thankfully, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel or spend time and money doing it. Aviz has done all the heavy lifting for you by partnering with nearly all major hardware vendors, to create an environment where any organization can conduct POCs across a wide range of options without having to invest a single dollar in purchasing hardware for POCs. 

The Aviz ONE Center is a perfect solution for low-effort, low-cost SONiC POCs with online and in-person access to try out SONiC capabilities on any hardware of your choice. Also, Aviz has created tools (also available in ONE Center) that can perform hundreds of tests for performance and scalability pertinent to your specific use cases. 

Additionally, today, many System Integrators (SIs) provide end-to-end solutions for SONiC, which means, you do not need to buy hardware, software, and support separately from multiple vendors.

In fact, many of our own SI partners have simplified the procurement process so much that they can generate a single BOM (bill of materials) across 10+ vendors and ensure that your procurement teams don’t have to interface with them individually.

4. Community SONiC is not secure because it’s open-source

Myth:  Many claim that SONiC is inherently insecure simply because it is open-source and exposes the source code to potential attackers. 

Reality: Exactly the opposite. Practically every Security Professional Aviz has encountered lobbies for Open Source because of the inherent review the software is given, and thus Open Source itself does not equate to insecurity. The security of open-source software depends on various factors, just like any other software implementation. While Open Source software by nature exposes the source code to everyone, which includes potential attackers, it also invites a large pool of experts to discover and address security vulnerabilities. The transparency of open-source projects often means vulnerabilities are identified and fixed faster than in proprietary software. 

The security of any software deployment or implementation, including SONiC, primarily depends on how well it is configured, maintained, and monitored. A vast community of SONiC developers actively scrutinizes and contributes to the codebase, ensuring that any security concerns are swiftly addressed, making SONiC more resilient to vulnerabilities, and substantially reduces the time to review and approve its use for a wide range of applications and services.

5. Open Source SONiC is just a short-term trend

Myth:  Some suggest that SONiC is merely a short-term trend and will fade away in the near future. Several open-source and commercial Open NOS solutions existed before SONiC, gained prominence, but eventually got consumed into proprietary networking ecosystems.

Reality: The consistent growth in the adoption of SONiC across large, medium, and small enterprises, combined with support and stewardship by major players like The Linux Foundation (LF), Open Compute Project (OCP), Microsoft, and the vast majority of networking hardware vendors, is a testament to its staying power. 

SONiC’s modular and open-source approach to networking addresses many of the pain points organizations have been facing for decades, making it not just a trend, but a significant shift in the networking paradigm. As organizations seek more control over their network infrastructure and adapt to evolving cloud-based architectures, SONiC offers a robust solution to both challenges.

Additionally, SONiC has already garnered unparalleled support from the vast majority of networking vendors. This is the first time in history, that an Open-source NOS has been whole-heartedly embraced by networking giants like AristaBroadcom, Cisco, Juniper, MarvellNVIDIA, along with numerous white-boxvendors such as Celestica, Edgecore, Quanta, Super Micro, and growing every day.

In their recent 2023 report Gartner explicitly stated “Open networking has been replaced on the Hype Cycle with SONiC, which garners the most client interest of any open networking technology.” 

A 5 Point Analysis on why Gartner Preferred SONiC Over Open Networking in their 2023 Hype Cycle is a great read that clearly  explains this ongoing trend. 

While technology trends may come and go, SONiC’s foundations align with the enduring demand for adaptable, cost-effective, and scalable networking solutions, suggesting that this is more than just a short-term trend in the networking landscape.

Conclusion

SONiC’s ascent in the networking sphere is undoubtedly well-deserved, poised to transform organizational networking strategies. By dispelling prevalent myths, we aim to offer clarity and inspire more entities to explore the myriad benefits SONiC offers. While due diligence is essential in adopting any technology, SONiC presents compelling options for next-generation networks. Understanding its true potential empowers organizations to make informed decisions about integrating SONiC into their network infrastructures.

Reach out to reserve your spot at our ONE Center for a proof of concept, where various vendor solutions, including Cisco SONiC, NVIDIA SONiC, Celestica SONiC, Marvell SONiC, Wistron SONiC, Edgecore Community SONiC, Supermicro SONiC, Enterprise SONiC etc, can be thoroughly explored and tested, ushering in a new era of networking innovation. As a common knowledge, these vendors are helping the community innovators such as Microsoft for Azure SONiC deployments as well hence bringing the same SONiC for other deployments.

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