SnapRoute, a 2-year-old startup launched by former Apple engineers and backed by the likes of AT&T and Microsoft, is rolling out a new network operating system that leverages containers and microservices and is designed to integrate into DevOps environments while improving network agility.
The company this week said its Cloud Native Network Operating System (CN-NOS) will enable enterprises to run networks that can deliver new services and applications quickly and securely as business needs change. It’s an improvement on what SnapRoute officials call traditional monolithic and complex network OSes whose codebases make adapting to changing demands difficult.
“More and more business value is being delivered via applications as companies strive to improve the customer experience and address increasing competitive pressure,” SnapRoute co-founder Glenn Sullivan told eWEEK. “In response, the way those applications are being built and deployed into the data center has been rapidly evolving to accelerate time to service, enhance security and compliance, and improve operational efficiency.”
The rigid architecture of legacy network operating systems “creates brittle network environments that are prone to outages, and restrict collaboration between the teams that develop applications (DevOps) and the teams that operate networks (NetOps),” Sullivan said. “This results in significant increases in application time to service, security vulnerabilities, and operational inefficiencies.”
SnapRoute has been active over the past couple of years in developing an open-source network stack and has worked with AT&T in the telecommunications company’s strategy to develop a software-centric network environment that includes the use of low-cost commodity “white box” switches. It’s part of a larger trend over the past several years toward network virtualization, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), which features the disaggregation of network software from the underlying hardware.
It has given momentum to white-box switch makers developed by original design manufacturers (ODMs) like Accton, Quanta and Foxconn. At the same time, there has been the rise of companies like Cumulus Networks, Big Switch Networks and Pluribus Network that develop network OSes and software that can run on hardware from multiple vendors. In response to the network virtualization trend, established vendors like Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco Systems have developed switches that can run software from third parties and versions of their own network OSes that can run on other vendors’ systems.
Despite this evolution, enterprises are still left with operating systems that don’t enable networks to be as agile or adaptable as needed in these more application-centric times, Sullivan said.
“With SnapRoute’s microservices, containerized cloud-native architecture and natively embedded Kubernetes, companies have an open, agile network operating system where features can be added and upgraded without impacting the system (bringing value to customers faster), reduced security expose given the ability to patch and surgically replace vulnerabilities in real-time (any-time compliance), and improved policy control and means to limit tedious tasks traditionally needed to support application roll-outs (simplified operations),” he said.
Sullivan added that “traditional vendors are making strides with making their offerings more open and portable. This, however, only scratches the surface on what is necessary to ease the pain of day 2 operations.”
With the microservices and container architecture and integrated Kubernetes for container orchestration, SnapRoute’s CN-NOS enables better collaboration between the DevOps groups and teams that operate the networks, which leads to faster time-to-service for applications and quicker response time to new business needs, officials said. Network administrators can add and upgrade features and fix problems in real time and without downtime and can remove unused services, which improve security.
The capabilities also improve compliance, allow for the use of DevOps tools to automate and control network attributes and make it easier for network operators to support applications as they are rolled out.
The results are 10 times faster application deployment, a five-times reduction in the ratio of administrator to platform and a 99 percent improvement in the time needed to fix a problem. CN-NOS also eliminates the need for network maintenance windows.
Initially the network OS will support platforms from Edgecore Networks, though support for other platforms will be added, Sullivan said.
“SnapRoute is aiming for the cloud service providers and enterprise SaaS [software-as-a-service] players who are looking to deliver accelerated application time-to-service with enhanced security and compliance, and simplified run-time operations,” he said. “Our GA use cases are data center-focused with features and functionality geared toward the top-of-rack and spine/leaf network topologies.”