Semiconductor Shortage: Your Network Is Calling For A Multi-Vendor Strategy

May 24, 2022
Gautam Agrawal
Semiconductor Shortage: Your Network Is Calling For A Multi-Vendor Strategy

In the wake of the ongoing supply chain crisis, the one thing we have seen over and over is that availability of silicon is the single most important barrier for the enterprise trying to expand and/or upgrade their network infrastructure. Yes, every enterprise needs to transform digitally in this new world of remote-first work culture. Yes, there are complications with adopting new open-source architectures. And Yes, there is a shortage of talent globally. But that fact remains, that we can not even start our digital transformation initiatives if the semiconductor crisis continues to be where it is. Simply put, the enterprise needs to adopt a multi-vendor strategy so they can source hardware from where supply is.

As the U.S. government noted in its “Briefing Room” blog, the paucity of semiconductors has not only been affecting the automotive industry, it has also been “dragging down the U.S. economy” and “could cut nearly a percentage point from GDP growth.”
How can networking leaders of multi-million/billion dollar corporations deal with this global supply chain crisis that is plaguing their digital transformation initiatives?

Relying on a single vendor who is constantly prioritizing and deprioritizing order fulfillment depending on how best they can juggle their customers isn’t cutting it now and will never be sufficient going forward. If Vendor A can only fulfill a portion of your hardware needs, the only option is to bring Vendor B, and Vendor C into the mix, from the very beginning, as part of your procurement strategy. But that brings up a different challenge.

How would you standardize the software stack across multiple hardware vendors, when every vendor has traditionally provided its proprietary software stack?

Fortunately, the “Open-Source” revolution in networking started long before the pandemic. We are now at a point where true disaggregation of hardware and software is possible with SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud). SONiC is an open-source network operating system based on Linux that runs on silicon from all major vendors. It is deployed today at multiple hyperscalers and web-scale enterprises for their Data Center and Edge Networks. The majority of ASIC/Switch vendors now support SONiC via their SAI/SDK integrations through standard APIs defined by a thriving community of SONiC developers.

Who would you go to, when your production network has issues that span across hardware from multiple vendors running “Open-Source” software that no one vendor truly owns?

It’s open-source. Community builds it, and the community maintains it. But, essentially the enterprise that is using it owns it and maintains it, which is fine as long as its core business is to sell networks (example: hyperscalers). When it comes to the non-hyperscalers, this is what scares them into going back to the proprietary stacks, and a single vendor strategy. And for this reason, network disaggregation cannot be limited to hardware and software segregation. We need new business models that can support “Open-Source” based stacks across multiple hardware platforms for the enterprise, much like how Red Hat supported enterprises through their adoption of Linux.

So, how would an entity like Red Hat support a multi-vendor strategy for network fabrics, without rolling out its own distro (much like RHEL)?

This is where the new business model is needed. Customers crave quality, and quality doesn’t have to translate to a single SONiC distro across all hardware platforms. After all, each vendor spends tremendous amounts of R&D efforts in perfecting their own solutions. At Aviz, we recognize that customers care about their use cases. They are willing to embrace the nuances of the underlying hardware, and even software if there is a single point of accountability for 24×7 support.

How is Aviz leveraging the “Open-Source” SONiC ecosystem and supporting this multi-vendor strategy?

At Aviz, we are building “Open-, Cloud-, and AI-First Networks.” At the core of it is the support we offer for helping the enterprise not only through their multi-vendor SONiC deployments but also through post-production network monitoring, so you can be confident that there is someone you can call upon when you need help.

We support multi-vendor SONiC deployments by:

  • Ascertaining quality: working with customers in identifying and documenting their use cases. We follow that by qualifying multiple vendors and certifying SONiC on their hardware in our lab environment for various speeds and feeds.
  • Providing 24×7 support: with our application-driven support model that leverages deep telemetry from devices running certified builds to proactively monitor your SONiC fabric, along with our team of SONiC experts that are available around the clock.
  • Enabling end-to-end SLAs: with both Switch and ASIC vendors to ensure that issues that trickle down to the platform drivers, or SAI/SDK layers, or the physical hardware itself for that matter can be addressed in a transparent and timely manner via well defined SLAs.
  • Delivering patches and upgrades: using our CI/CD-based sandbox environment to run regressions before the patches or upgrades are released for the customer’s production environment.

If there was ever a good time for the enterprise to consider a multi-vendor strategy for their network infrastructure, it is now. Rest assured that the entire ecosystem has evolved to a point where true disaggregation is not only feasible but the only viable option for catering to the new demands of digital infrastructure upgrades. Our customers are seeing immense value in our disaggregated application-driven support for “Open-Source” SONiC, which is a key driver to adopting a multi-vendor strategy and de-risking the challenges posed by the global supply chain crisis. To learn more about how our disaggregated application-driven support model works, schedule a discovery call with us.

On a separate note, we are looking for dreamers like ourselves who can not only contribute code for multi-vendor SONiC development but also help expand our vision. Send us a note at to start a conversation.