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The Story Behind Asterfusion SONiC Switch Support for Cisco-style Command Line

written by Asterfuison

November 8, 2022

Today, we don’t talk about Asterfusion’s products(e.g. SONiC switches) or solutions, we want to share with you a customer “unsuccessful case”.


In recent years, more and more cutting-edge technology enterprises began to have business runs on the cloud demand. Thus, the cloud has become a productivity tool to support application operations, and the data on the cloud is a valuable core asset for enterprises. Due to various factors, many companies have abandoned the public cloud and considered building a flexible, scalable, and autonomous private cloud.

But this undoubtedly places strict demands on cloud infrastructure. Cloud networks, for example, need features such as low latency, high reliability, and easy scalability to carry large-amount AI analysis services… Of course, it is also necessary to take into account the cost performance of self-built cloud construction.

Our potential customer, Company D, is an Internet technology company with a strong innovation culture in China. Driven by the demand for cloud services, they decided to apply open network technology to their data centers.

The solution is to use cloud SONiC switches.

As a result, Asterfuison, who specializes in SONiC based cloud data center solution, very naturally entered the D company’s field of vision.

Asterfusion Low latency data center switch
Asterfusion Low latency data center switch

After getting in touch, Asterfuison’s CX-N series products were successfully deployed to the customer’s site, and the final test results were also very positive: CX-N series cloud switches can fully meet the customer’s ideal cloud network requirements!

Unexpectedly, the client hesitated at the last minute. And, to put Asterfusion in the friend-zone condition……

“Your product is really good, But…”

Company D later explained their concerns: the community SONiC command line is Linux/Python style, the D company O&M team’s technical skill are based on the Cisco style command line. And the learning cost generated by this makes them have to re-consider the open network.

Just a few words, but it triggered a deep reflection on Asterfusion’s products and R&D team. It has always been our mission and goal to be the best enterprise SONiC distribution for SONiC switches. Over the years, we have been developing rich software features for AsterNOS ahead of community, adapt to almost all mainstream commercial switching chips, and provide a full range of operation and programming APIs for network automation, making AsterNOS more powerful and stable. However, Our SONiC NOS does not pay enough attention to the human-computer interaction level.

Asterfusion layer2layer3 network sonic switches
Asterfusion layer2layer3 network switches with SONiC INSTALLED

The unexpected setback brings the real needs of the market in front of Asterfusion:  the current situation of D Company’s operation and maintenance team is by no means an exception. On the way of transforming from traditional IT infrastructure to open networking solution, there are many such embarrassments as “the heart longs for it but the body cannot reach it”. And allowing more network engineers to easily use SONiC is an indispensable part of promoting the open network from the concept stage to the implementation. So Asterfusion quickly started development work for the AsterNOS command line style.

KLISH (Kommand Line Interface SHell) is a command line interface framework that implements the Cisco way on Unix systems. Based on SONiC’s open and disaggregated flexible architecture, the open source Klish has been integrated into the sonic-mgmt-framework container as a command-line interface tool. Through the API provided by AsterNOS, we can quickly complete this work and adapt to different hardware platform.

KLISH (Kommand Line Interface SHell)

Asterfusion’s open network solution

when the existing functions cannot meet the needs,the AsterNOS API allows us to create new apps for our customers to solve their problems with an efficiency that would have been unimaginable in traditional times. The Cisco style command line is just one of the apps.

It’s also perhaps the most frustrating and exciting thing in one Aster fusion’s senior engineer’s mind. Because it is him, in the early years, to led dozens of engineers to carry out command line design, implementation and transformation for Huawei VRP1.0, and he also defined the first feature roadmap plan for Huawei VRP.  

As an App for development, Klish command line does not need so many people to transform the whole OS, and there is no opportunity to put similar independent requirements into the roadmap planning. Even customers can write new apps by themselves to solve the problem—AsterNOS enables Python/Golang programmers to develop a new application in a container to enhance the SONiC switch’s feature , as easy and fast as writing an Android App.

AsterNOS enables Python/Golang programmers to develop a new application in a container to enhance the switch's feature , as easy and fast as writing an Android App.

Now, AsterNOS has now been updated to support both command-line modes: the standard Linux Bash and the traditional commercial switch style (Cisco style /Klish). The SONiC-based AsterNOS became more operational with traditional network engineers. Engineers only need to log in to the SONiC switch and type two lines of code to access the Klish interface and start working quickly.

(There is a screen recording demo at the end of the article👇).

Whether it is a campus network or a cloud data center, as long as it is on Asterfusion SONiC switches;

Network engineers can continue to use the operations that they are already familiar with to complete the deployment, which greatly reduces the efficiency loss caused by software platform switching. Now, AsterNOS’s support for Cisco-style command lines has covered more than 90% of the common functions, and the work is still in progress. In the future, all switches of Asterfusion will support Cisco style preferentially.

Turning the setback of a missed customer into a driving force for responding to market demands, and achieve rapid product upgrade and iteration, behind all this is Asterfusion’s full confidence brought by years of technical accumulation in the field of open networks, as well as its unwavering determination to invest in the long-term around customer needs.

Appendix | Asterfusion SONiC Switches

AsterNOS support for Klish command line(Partial display)

Just two steps! Using Cisco-Style Command Lines on Asterfusion SONiC Switches

admin@sonic:~$ sudo config cli-mode cliadmin@sonic:~$ sudo sonic-clisonic# configure terminal

Switch back to Bash mode? Just Exit !

sonic# exit

Exit the interface view and return to the standard Linux Bash mode (some commands can support mixing, please inquire for details)

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