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Put down your coffee gently. Microsoft has today released a homegrown open-source operating system, based on Debian GNU/Linux, that runs on network switches. The software is dubbed SONiC, aka Software for Open Networking in the Cloud. It's a toolkit of code to bend switch hardware to your will, so you can dictate how it works and what it can do, rather than relying on proprietary firmware from a traditional networking vendor. It also pits Redmond against white-box network operating systems from the likes of HP, Dell, and Cumulus Networks. SONiC builds upon the Windows giant's Linux-based Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) operating system that we learned about in September. ACS is the brains of switches in Microsoft's Azure cloud: the code can run on all sorts of hardware from different equipment makers, and uses a common C API – the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) – to program the specialist chips in the networking gear. This means ACS can control and manage network devices and implement features as required regardless of who made the underlying electronics. View the full article