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SONiC: It’s Not Just for Switches Anymore

By Amit Sanyal, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Marvell

SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) has steadily gained momentum as a cloud-scale network operating system (NOS) by offering a community-driven approach to NOS innovation. In fact, 650 Group predicts that revenue for SONiC hardware, controllers and OSs will grow from around US$2 billion today to around US$4.5 billion by 2025. 

Those using it know that the SONiC open-source framework shortens software development cycles; and SONiC’s Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) provides ease of porting and a homogeneous edge-to-cloud experience for data center operators. It also speeds time-to-market for OEMs bringing new systems to the market.

The bottom line: more choice is good when it comes to building disaggregated networking hardware optimized for the cloud. Over recent years, SONiC-using cloud customers have benefited from consistent user experience, unified automation, and software portability across switch platforms, at scale.

As the utility of SONiC has become evident, other applications are lining up to benefit from this open-source ecosystem.

A SONiC Buffet: Extending SONiC to Storage

SONiC capabilities in Marvell’s cloud-optimized switch silicon include high availability (HA) features, RDMA over converged ethernet (RoCE), low latency, and advanced telemetry. All these features are required to run robust storage networks.

Here’s one use case: EBOF. The capabilities above form the foundation of Marvell’s Ethernet-Bunch-of-Flash (EBOF) storage architecture. The new EBOF architecture addresses the non-storage bottlenecks that constrain the performance of the traditional Just-a-Bunch-of-Flash (JBOF) architecture it replaces-by disaggregating storage from compute.

EBOF architecture replaces the bottleneck components found in JBOF – CPUs, DRAM and SmartNICs – with an Ethernet switch, and it’s here that SONiC is added to the plate. Marvell has, for the first time, applied SONiC to storage, specifically for services enablement, including the NVMeoFTM (NVM Express over Fabrics) discovery controller, and out-of-band management for EBOF, using Redfish® management. This implementation is in production today on the Ingrasys ES2000 EBOF storage solution. (For more on this topic, check out this, this, and this.)