Network Operating Systems: Questions and Answers

James Miles got tons of really interesting questions while watching the Network Operating System Models webinar by Dinesh Dutt, and the only reasonable thing to do when he sent them over was to schedule a Q&A session with Dinesh to discuss them.

We got together last week and planned to spend an hour or two discussing the questions, but (not exactly unexpectedly) we got only halfway through the list in the time we had, so we’re continuing next week.

This is how far we’ve got:

  • What exactly is an operating system, and why do we need one?
  • Are network operating systems special, and if so, why?
  • How do network operating systems integrate with switching ASICs?
  • How exactly is that integration done if you’re using Linux-based network operating system (Cisco NX-OS, Arista EOS, Cumulus Linux, SONiC)?
  • How would you compare different network operating systems… and why would you consider Junos to be better than Cisco IOS?

For whatever reason we couldn’t avoid getting pulled down the “virtual machines versus containers” rabbit hole, but it was definitely an interesting detour that we’ll use next week when discussing virtualized network devices.

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  1. This looks interesting especially if it covers monolithic vs. non et al. I recall books such as Inside Cisco IOS Architecture that would cover the internals of the OS. This looks like a great course to provide more insight to plan for better purpose build type architectures and product selection.

    As an old school guy the title of the course threw me for a second. Us old school guys early 80s on(well me at least) when hearing the term "network OS" think of Novell Netware, Banyan vines, MS-Lan Manager, etc. an OS that formed a LAN, can route and bridge, manage user accounts, load sharable applications, serve files and handle storage vs. a specific router or switch's platform operating system.

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