The Linux Foundation OpenSwitch project announced the availability of the OPX 2.3 software release, delivering an enterprise-grade networking operating system for white box switches. The OpenSwitch project’s mission is to provide a turn-key switching system based on the open source OPX network operating system.
“Our goal is to build an ecosystem for networking fabrics for commercial projects,” said Alley Hasan, OpenSwitch board chair and director of strategy networking at Dell. “OPX offers a commercially viable set of features.”
Albert Fishman, OpenSwitch project marketing chair and a product manager for switching software at Cavium, said OPX is disaggregating switching hardware from software. “We’re taking the networking industry on the same journey that servers went through two decades ago,” said Fishman.
A close competitor to OpenSwitch would be Microsoft’s Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) operating system. SONiC allows operators to share the same software stack across multiple switch vendors’ hardware. Microsoft turned its SONiC code over to the Open Compute Project in 2016.
Fishman said that the SONiC software is completely disaggregated, and it is open, “but SONiC doesn’t have any way to buy a commercial product.”
Whereas OPX 2.3 supports a set of Layer 2 and Layer 3 networking features that are compatible with a wide variety of 10G, 25G, 40G and 100G hardware platforms from multiple vendors, including Dell EMC, a leading contributor of OpenSwitch. If a customer uses Dell EMC hardware, and they want to run OpenSwitch, Dell EMC provides support for it.
The Linux Foundation also hosts the Open vSwitch (OVS) project. But one significant difference between OPX and OVS is that OVS is, by definition, a virtual switch, useful for technologies such as network virtualization. OpenSwitch is aimed at hardware-based switches, making it a complement to the hardware-minded Open Compute Project.
One organization that is using OPX is Verizon Connect. This is Verizon’s business unit that provides fleet management and mobile workforce management software platforms.
Rick Davis, infrastructure architect and DevOps leader at Verizon Connect, said the group launched an initiative to modernize its application stack in 2016. “Our highly scalable, extensible, and cloud adaptable platform was successfully deployed in production with OPX software at its core,” he said in a statement. “And we’re looking forward to the future of the OpenSwitch project.”