Microsoft, hardware making giant, contributed its Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONIC) last year to the Open Compute Project datacenter foundation. Now, nearly a year later, Alibaba Corp., the e-commerce giant, announced that it is beginning to use SONIC for its own public cloud datacenters.

Alibaba finds use for SONIC

SONIC that was known as Azure Cloud Switch formerly is Linux-based software is used for managing and controlling networking switches. Microsoft officials said at the recent Open Networking Summit in Santa Clara that China-based online retailing giant is the most recent company to find use for SONIC. VentureBeat notes that the hardware maker uses SONIC in its own Azure datacenters as well.

SONIC is the source code which the technology giant makes publicly available on GitHub. SONIC is built on the open-sourced Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) of Microsoft. SAI defines a standardized programming interface for network hardware vendors. Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Azure Networking, offered some additional context on SONIC in a blog post on April 3.

He said, “SONIC is the first solution to break monolithic switch software into multiple containerized components.” This enables the operators to plug in new components that are required for specific scenarios.

Khalidi explained in his blog post that SONIC builds on existing open source technologies like Ansible for deployment, Redis for key-value database, Docker for containers, and protocols like Quagga BGP and LLDPD.

Microsoft used the best work to build SONIC: Khalidi

Khalidi explained that they used the best work in the industry to create SONIC. He added, “It evolves quickly because we’re building it with existing open source projects. We contributed SONIC back to the community to propel the advance of open networking software in a wonderful, virtuous cycle.”

In 2014, Khalidi joined the Open Compute Project (OCP) and is a contributor and founding member of the SAI project of the organization. In 2011, the social media giant ‘Facebook’ created the OCP. OCP is a foundation that publishes open hardware designs which can be used to build datacenters relatively at lower costs.

When the hardware making giant joined OCP, the company official said that the tech giant would be contributing to its project ‘Microsoft cloud server specification’ and releasing its ‘Chassis Manager under the open-source Apache license’. The cloud server is a 12U shared server chassis capable of housing 24 1U server. Already, the OCP has released specifications for cabling, chipsets, motherboards, common sockets, open networking and switches and connectors.