Ever since Satya Nadella's appointment as Microsoft's CEO last year, the company seems to have set aside corporate politics and started more collaboration with its known competitors.

The technology company's latest collaborations with Apple and Salesforce were highly publicized. To further its competitors-turned-partners list, Microsoft announced that its ACS (Azure Cloud Switch), a cross-platform modular operating system intended for data centers, which are powered by Linux.

"The Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) is our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches," said Kamala Subramaniam, Azure Networking Principal Architect. "ACS believes in the power of Open Networking."

Subramaniam notes that ACS enables debugging, fixing and testing software glitches at a much faster pace.

"It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our datacenter and our networking needs," she added.

Moreover, the networking architect specifies that ACS allows similar software stack to be shared across hardware from multiple switch vendors, which is done through SAI (Switch Abstraction Interface) specification of the OCP (Open Compute Project). Note that SAI is the first open-standard common application for programming network switching ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit).

Contrary to traditional switch systems that are built for numerous clients with various scenarios and feature requests, ACS centers feature development based on Microsoft priorities and thus, explains why it has a lean stack in addition to having a modular one.

The combination of both, in comparison to the monolithic image in traditional switches, makes for easier validations with less chances of hidden critical glitches. It also reduces new feature request time lag.

The deviation from the traditional switch software is needed for the ACS to be easily configurable and managed through the integration of Microsoft's monitoring and diagnostics system. It also facilitates better management that is akin to that of servers' where regular software rollouts and roll backs are done to ensure a mature deployment model and configuration.

Running on Linux gives ACS the flexibility to use and extend to Microsoft, Open Source, and Third Party applications.

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