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Monday, November 18, 2013

Network operating system architecture

In my previous posts we took a look at how hardware networking vendors design and build modern systems. We concentrated mainly on the OS and software integration on the appliance:
Today I found another good article on Arista blog that takes this one step further and again advocates an open operating system design: Linux as a Switch Operating System: Five Lessons Learned. This is what Arista says:
  • It’s okay to leave the door unlocked - get net admin access to the underlying Linux operating system tools
  • Preserve the integrity of the Linux core - keep your product specific changes as small as possible to allow integration with already existing software out there
  • Focus on state, not messages - being only maybe an average programmer I will not comment on this as this is clearly not my area of expertise
  • Keep your hands out of the kernel - why to complicate your code if it doesn't bring any revolutionary benefit; besides it is much easier to find developers who know how to program in linux/libc than in Linux kernel.
  • Provide familiar interfaces to ease adoption - everyone knows the IOS CLI so why to invent something new.
Lesson learned from Arista: reuse, integrate and trust your customers.

The company success would not be possible without a clear and consistent OS and tools set design. From my experience they are the second company (I saw this first on BigIP - F5 load balancers).

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