In January 2016, only months before Microsoft dropped the SONiC bomb, Dell open sourced its own FTOS OS10 network operating system, which it got by virtue of its acquisition of switch maker Force10 Networks in the summer of 2011. Dell kept its hand in the OpenSwitch (OPX) project it spawned; it also participated in the SONiC community started by Microsoft and was an early adopter of Cumulus Linux on its switch gear.
Dell did not, in fact, spawn the OpenSwitch project. I’ve written about this before, so you might want to go and read that post. The ’tl;dr’ is that OpenSwitch was launched in 2015 by HPE, and by 2016 it had left the project. The original HPE code was forked and in fact is still on github under the LibreSwitch moniker.
Back to The Next Platform article. This quote from Drew Schulke, VP of networking at Dell Technologies, stands out in the article:
We didn’t drop OpenSwitch like a bad habit, but spun it into the Linux Foundation and made it part of the broader Open Networking Linux project. But our focus going forward is very much going to be on the SONiC side.
The quote above might lead you to believe Dell created the OpenSwitch project, which they did not. Dell did indeed take over the hole that HPE left in the OpenSwitch project. But much like HPE before it, Dell has pretty much abandoned OpenSwitch.
It’s technically correct that Dell spun their code into the OpenSwitch project, but the OpenSwitch project already existed when they did this. They effectively took over the name of the project and replaced all of it’s code with some combination of their own code and some code from SnapRoute (press release here).
It seems to me that indeed Microsoft Sonic is getting the majority of the mindshare around open network operating systems for switches. But we should not forget to accurately capture the history of these projects when writing articles about them.