Aviz Strikes New SONiC Partnership with Cisco


By: R. Scott Raynovich

There's been a big development in the Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) market. Aviz Networks and Cisco have announced a partnership that represents an exciting moment for open networking. The two companies have announced they will cooperate on ready-to-deploy SONiC solutions for private and edge cloud networks.

For those of you who don't know SONiC, it is a free and open source network operating system (NOS) based on Linux, launched by Microsoft in 2016. Last year, it was transferred to the Linux Foundation to expand its potential as a community project.

This deal demonstrates a number of things. It shows that Cisco, the largest player in enterprise networking, sees momentum behind the SONiC market. It also solidifies SONiC's role as the go-to open networking stack that can provide economic, multivendor connectivity in enterprise datacenter and cloud environments. Finally, it ratifies the approach by Aviz to build a consistent operating stack to drive SONiC maturity for enterprise markets.

Solidifying SONiC for Enterprise

First, let’s take a look at some quick background on SONiC and how Aviz Networks has taken big steps to push SONiC to the next level, which we have written about in this leadership brief.

One of the main advantages of SONiC is that it enables customers to disaggregate the NOS from underlying hardware by using SONiC's Switch Abstraction Interface API. This offers many advantages for the customer, including standardization of the NOS layer, supply-chain diversification, reduced network complexity, and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO).

SONiC is experiencing rapid adoption by cloud providers, enterprises, and web-scale companies, who have always been looking for economical networking solutions that can scale. However, to attract more enterprise customers, it requires a full testing, management, support stack – which Aviz Networks has delivered.

The partnership with Cisco is a validation of Aviz’ approach to bring a neutral third party to SONiC market by adding enterprise-grade expertise, tools, and support for SONiC deployments.

What This Means with Cisco

So what's in the deal? 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’ management tools and full enterprise support.

Support is delivered via Aviz Open Networking Experience Center (ONES) - which is a support product and helps cut down the cost of support and turn around time. ONES collects the support data, and Aviz experts will help triage and fix bugs in the SONiC layer as necessary, and also manage the SONiC release with Cisco as required.

This move will provide a more open and diverse platform for Cisco customers, while providing another growth avenue for its SiliconOne chip platform.

Kevin Wollenweber, SVP/GM, Cisco Networking Data Center and Provider Connectivity, embraced the partnership as a pivotal move to ensure robust networking deployments for the SONiC market.

Said Wollenweber:

‍“Cisco and Aviz are committed to simplifying the cloud journey for our customers. By combining the capability of industry-leading Cisco 8000 Series routers and an open, community-based SONiC distribution with Aviz’s professional SONiC support, we are providing flexible open networking solutions and services across data center use cases of all shapes and sizes.”

The fact that Cisco is enabling SONiC on the 8000 series – and selecting Aviz Networks – is kind of a big deal. This will provide greater flexibility for Cisco customers looking to leverage the 8000 and Silicon One platform with greater NOS flexibility and open-source economics. It’s clear that Cisco sees the momentum behind SONiC market.

The partnership is also a ratification of Aviz’ approach to deliver a full SONiC stack for testing, management, and fault remediation. This includes the ONES, which enables customers to test and prepare integrations with SONiC in their own environment; Open Packet Broker (OPB) for packet-level network monitoring; and the Fabric Test Automation Suite (FTAS) for continuous validation, management, testing, and fault remediation.

The comprehensive partnership with Cisco will include anything that enterprise customers need for a SONiC environment, including validation and proof of concept environments.

For example, it includes:

  • SONiC Proof of concept (POC) on Cisco routers using Aviz’ FTAS.
  • The use of Aviz’ ONES (or other off the shelf tools) to deploy SONiC on Cisco routers
  • 24x7 support from Aviz SONiC experts using ONES.

SONiC Customers Can Leverage Cisco’s Hardware

This opportunity will be appealing to many Cisco customers. For example, a Cisco customer considering a move to open-source SONiC can now deploy it on a Cisco hardware platform that is fully interoperable with Cisco environment – with full support.

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

This is a very interesting development for the SONiC market at large – one that I believe will take SONiC to the next level. With Cisco’s endorsement, Aviz has developed mature products to elevate the experience for SONiC customers. And Cisco’s sales channels will provide new growth for both SONiC and SiliconONE.