Finally Microsoft goes Linux, develops it’s in-house software-defined networking OS, ACS

Currently, Microsoft is working on a Linux-based operating system that is aimed at driving the networking hardware in the enterprise space. Until now, the diverse set of networking hardware available was run on different software platforms, which made managing them a nightmare.

Microsoft is working on building Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), which is the company’s first foray into switch hardware and it has Linux under the hood. The ACS will make it simple to control the hardware that powers cloud-based services.

The company calls it “a cross-platform modular operating system for data networking built on Linux.” The Linux-based ACS is a software to debug, fix and test software bugs much faster.

“We believe this approach of disaggregating the switch software from the switch hardware will continue to be a growing trend in the networking industry and we would like to contribute our insights and experiences of this journey starting here,” said Kamala Subramanian, Redmond’s principal architect for Azure Networking.

She also pointed out that, “It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our datacenter and our networking needs.”

Though Microsoft did not tell why it needed to develop its own Linux distribution, Subramanian said that ACS believes in the power of Open Networking and aims for easier configuration and management by integrating with Microsoft’s monitoring and diagnostics system. By moving away from the traditional enterprise interactive model of command line interfaces, it allows for switches to be managed just as servers are with weekly software rollouts and roll backs, thus ensuring a mature configuration and deployment model. Using Linux, ACS is also able to use the vibrant Linux ecosystem and support the Open Source and Third Party applications.

Subramanian says, “We’re talking about ACS publicly as we believe this approach of disaggregating the switch software from the switch hardware will continue to be a growing trend in the networking industry and we would like to contribute our insights and experiences of this journey starting here.”

The company writes, “At Microsoft, we believe there are many excellent switch hardware platforms available on the market, with healthy competition between many vendors driving innovation, speed increases, and cost reductions.”

The new Microsoft under Satya Nadella shows that it is not afraid to adopt open source technologies while implementing solutions, as long as it gets the job done. In this case, even Linux.

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