Linux is a powerful component in data center infrastructure and networks

Linux is an open source operating system launched in 1991 for computers, but its use has expanded to support systems for automobiles, telephones, web servers and, more recently, network equipment.

Its longevity, maturity and security make it one of the most reliable operating systems available today, which means it is ideal for commercial network devices, as well as for companies that want to use it to customize their own network infrastructure and network centers. data.

This in turn makes Linux skills much sought after by IT hiring managers. Many of the new technologies associated with DevOps, for example, containers, OpenSource infrastructure and SDN drivers are Linux-based.

So, what is Linux?

Linux, an operating system similar to Unix, is distributed under open source licenses, which means that the following rules apply that make it attractive to businesses:

Linux operating system is free to run.

Administrators can study the operating system and customize it for specific purposes.

Unlimited redistribution privileges of the original or modified versions of the operating system.

The Linux operating system consists of:

Core: sends instructions to the CPU, peripherals and memory.

Bootloader : the processes that manage the boot of the system. On a computer, the user would recognize this from the welcome screen above. In a network device there is a status that indicates the boot process.

Daemons : background services that start at the moment of startup or after the system is fully active.

Shell: is the Linux command line. It can be intimidating for people who are used to working in graphical environments, but most network professionals are used to operating in a shell.

In addition to the shell, Linux servers also have a graphical desktop environment and applications that run on top of it. There are some network applications for Linux, such as traffic analysis, security and network management, which also have graphical interfaces, but are much less in number than servers and desktops.

Foundation for commercial gear

Actually, the command line interfaces (CLIs) that most network administrators use today to configure routers and switches from their favorite network provider are highly customized versions of Linux with vendor-specific interfaces that run on top of them . The challenge with this is that the skills needed to work with them are not very portable from vendor to vendor. A very competent engineer working with Cisco IOS would probably not be able to work with Juniper Junos because each one includes its own different abstraction layer that sits atop the pure Linux code.

Linux itself, instead of working through an abstraction layer, provides direct access to the routing and forwarding tables, notification systems, telemetry information and different interfaces. That can make Linux more flexible, and with the support of the large Linux community, potentially faster to respond to the need for new services than a commercial provider could be.

Linux has an excellent ecosystem with mature APIs, as well as an agile network stack optimized for the modernized data center. For example, Linux is designed with a separate control and data forwarding aircraft that facilitate the fall in software-defined network architectures, because the separation of those planes is the basis of SDN.

Another element that Linux- based products can bring to the network is that switches can be managed with policy-based open source orchestration and automation tools such as Ansible, Puppet and Chef. There are approximately 25 of these tools available with support for different Unix flavors but they all also support Linux .

Linux-based products

During the last decade there has been an explosion in the number of Linux-based products that have had a great impact on the IT space, including:

Kubernetes : Google Container Cluster Administrator

OpenStack : software platform for infrastructures as cloud services platforms

Open Daylight : the Java-based project of the Linux Foundation to accelerate the adoption of SDNs and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)

Docker : software container program

Open vSwitch (OVS): Distributed multilayer virtual switch to provide a switching stack within virtualization environments. OVS in particular is interesting because it offers a richer set of network features than the basic capabilities of the Linux kernel.

Networking has been slow to embrace Linux, but the more they depend on the network, the more network and server domains join. For network engineers, being able to access the native Linux shell allows them to use tools and software that were only available only for servers. This makes it much easier to organize network services with changes in servers and applications. In addition, the open nature of Linux has created a massive community that is actively involved in finding new ways to use it. The containers have evolved to a large extent through the participation of the community.