Dell EMC, SnapRoute Expand Contributions to OpenSwitch Project

The vendors are bringing open software to the group, which is working to create a complete open-source network operating system.

open networking

Dell EMC and startup SnapRoute are taking a larger role in the OpenSwitch project to develop a complete open-source network operating system.

Officials with the project, which is running under the auspices of the Linux Foundation, announced this week that Dell EMC is contributing its OS10 Open Edition, a version of the network operating system that Dell introduced in January. SnapRoute is contributing its open-source network stack and management services that officials said will help drive a modular, hardware-independent operating system.

The OpenSwitch architecture is based on SnapRoute's networking stack contribution, according to the group.

"SnapRoute is fully committed to driving the project and enabling a future of open networking," company founder and CEO Jason Forrester said in a statement. "By taking a leadership role in delivering SnapRoute's open-source networking stack to the project, we are taking a meaningful step toward realizing the vision of a fully open network operating system."

The rise of network virtualization—in particular, software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV)—has driven demand for more open networking software solutions that can run on standard hardware. The goal is to create networks that are more scalable, programmable and agile by removing the control plane and networking functions like load balancing and firewalls from the underlying hardware and putting them into software.

Some enterprises are running their software on white boxes made by original design manufactures (ODMs). In response, vendors like Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Juniper Networks are offering switches that can run software from third-party players. Some OEMs have begun developing their own open network OSes, while other vendors like Cumulus Networks, Pica8 and Pluribus Networks offer open-source networking software.

HPE began developing OpenSwitch in-house, and then handed it over to the Linux Foundation in June to assure the industry that there wouldn't be one vendor in control of the open standard. Now the group is focusing its efforts on technology from vendors beyond HPE, in this case Dell EMC and SnapRoute. The startup was founded last year by a group of ex-Apple engineers who reportedly were unhappy with the company's refusal to join the Open Compute Project (OCP), the effort spearheaded by Facebook to drive open-source development concepts into the designs of data center hardware, including servers, storage devices and networking gear.

The goal of the OpenSwitch project is to develop a complete open-source network OS offering, including a set of APIs to help drive development on the software. The group has more than a dozen members, including chip makers Broadcom, Cavium and Marvell, networking vendors Extreme Networks, EdgeCore Networks and Barefoot Networks, and OEMs like Dell EMC and HPE.

"Dell EMC is committed to leading within the open switching community to drive networking innovation and disrupt this historically proprietary industry," Gavin Cato, senior vice president of networking development engineering at the company, said in a statement. He added that through its contributions to both the OpenSwitch and OCP efforts, Dell EMC is "further unlocking the networking software stack with the power of open platform abstraction and disaggregation."