Aviz Follows Up Cisco Deal with $10 Million Round


By: R. Scott Raynovich

Aviz Networks is on a roll. The producer of networking tools for the Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) market recently struck a partnership with Cisco that represents an exciting moment for open networking. And now, Aviz announced it has added Cisco as an investor as part of a new $10 million funding round that also includes Moment Ventures, Accton, and Wistron.

The deal means Cisco is upping its bet on SONiC as an alternative network operating system for both enterprise networking and cloud. Earlier in November, the two companies announced they will cooperate on ready-to-deploy SONiC solutions for private and edge cloud networks.

This is Cisco’s strongest statement yet in support of a SONiC strategy, which appeals to network architects who might favor Cisco hardware running Aviz’s multivendor, GenAI-based networking stack targeting SONiC. Other branded box networking vendors have only weakly embraced SONiC, and they tend to downplay the advantage of using open networking.

Cisco Pushes a Broadcom Alternative

Let's now ask: Why is SONiC important? The bulk of technology innovation in the past ten years (or more) has come in the cloud domain, which has delivered unprecedented scale for IT infrastructure. This scale has been enabled by producing more open architectures for hardware and software, including disaggregating hardware and software. AI is likely to increase these demands.

SONiC was developed by Microsoft for its own Azure cloud before being given to the Linux Foundation. SONiC delivers on many of the advantages consistent with cloud-native technology: It’s built for scale as well as fast development. By disaggregating the NOS using SONiC's Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) API, customers can derive many benefits -- including standardizing the NOS layer, diversifying supply-chain (hardware suppliers), lessening network complexity, and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).

Despite these advantages, SONiC has lagged the large suppliers of NOS deployments. Some argue that it is somewhat more difficult to deploy. This is the challenge Aviz has been aiming to solve by building a portfolio of evaluation, testing, monitoring, and deployment tools.

For Cisco, it's an opportunity to expand the market for its own silicon in open networking environments. Cisco has been making a big push into cloud with Silicon One, its proprietary chip designed to support hyperscale and webscale environments. It makes sense to provide more options, including SONiC, as an alternative to Broadcom-based networking equipment, which dominates the landscape for disaggregated, open networking solutions from other suppliers.

Enterprise Reliability for SONiC

The support of Cisco, the largest player in enterprise networking, will help solidify SONiC's role as the go-to open networking stack that can provide economic, multivendor connectivity in enterprise datacenter and cloud environments. It also ratifies the approach by Aviz to build a consistent operating stack to drive SONiC maturity for enterprise markets.

The Cisco investment will likely raise eyebrows in the industry, specifically from Broadcom. As noted, Broadcom hardware is used with many of the networking solutions using open-networking alternatives for the enterprise, which include NVIDIA’s Cumulus and Mellanox, as well as solutions from startups such as Arrcus with ArcOS.

In deploying networking infrastructure, many cloud providers have adopted open networking platforms for this reason. Not only do they want more flexibility in deploying commercial off the shelf (COTS) networking platforms of their choice, software disaggregation also gives them the flexibility in building management, monitoring, and support stacks.

For Cisco, the goal is to expand the options for customers and deliver a hardware alternative to Broadcom, which some fear may be getting too powerful in the networking market. Cisco’s 8000 series routers will now be available with Aviz Networks’ SONiC stack. This means that customers can run SONiC on Cisco’s 8000 series routers with Silicon One, using Aviz’s management tools and full enterprise support.

As Cisco’s business model shifts increasingly toward its Silicon One custom chip, which is designed for high performance in webscale and datacenter deployments, Cisco customers can now deploy SONiC along with hardware from Cisco as well as other vendors, within a consistent and predictable environment.

Cisco joins Aviz’s existing investors, Moment Ventures, Accton, and Wistron. The company says this funding will accelerate customer momentum for Aviz’s multivendor approach.

Futuriom Take: Aviz’s partnership with Cisco validates the SONiC market with third-party support, enterprise-grade expertise, tools, and support for SONiC deployments. The partnership between Cisco and Aviz should help expand the SONiC market.