Virtualization Technology News and Information
Cumulus Networks Brings the Power of Linux to Networking

Cumulus Networks today emerged from stealth to unveil Cumulus Linux, the first true, full-featured Linux operating system for datacenter networking. Already in deployment by several next-generation service providers and enterprises, Cumulus Linux enables fast, easy and affordable networking and fills the void for a truly standalone network operating system (OS). These benefits are helping customers fulfill the promise of the software-defined datacenter.

"DreamHost's large-scale, high-capacity cloud network is greatly enhanced by the use of Cumulus technology, giving us hardware platform flexibility, significantly improved automation and management, and fantastic performance," said Jonathan LaCour, VP Product and Development at DreamHost. "Cumulus Linux represents a fundamental shift in how service providers build out cloud-scale networks."

Cumulus Linux is in large-scale commercial deployment with one of the world’s biggest cloud providers, as well as a newer generation of cloud service providers such as DreamHost and Fastly.

The Linux Revolution for Networking

“Linux revolutionized the compute-side of the datacenter over the past 15 years. Having a common OS broke vendor lock-in, drove down server hardware cost, allowed scale-out architectures, and provided a common platform for innovations like virtualization. Meanwhile networking remained stagnant,” said JR Rivers, co-founder and CEO of Cumulus Networks. “Innovation is finally coming to the network, and we are bringing that same transformational impact that Linux has had on datacenter economics and innovation to the networking side of the house.”

Enterprises and service providers operating modern datacenters face three interlocking challenges. They need to create infrastructure that is higher capacity, less complex and affordable. And they need to address those three challenges in a way that supports new, more fluid application architectures with great agility and efficiency. The network is vital to making this all work.

Incumbent networking solutions are flawed for numerous reasons: they are proprietary with tightly integrated hardware and software. They are expensive and complex. There are no common toolsets to orchestrate, automate and monitor them. And they are prone to human error.

Cumulus solves these problems by providing the crucial network operating system. For the first time, customers can take advantage of the price-performance of so-called “industry-standard” or “bare- metal” hardware as well as the agility and automation of the new generation of “software-defined” datacenter software and native Linux-based toolsets.

New Datacenter Economics & Agility

Cumulus Linux is the foundation for a network that is much faster, far simpler and more affordable than incumbent models.

  • Faster: Cumulus Networks helps customers get more capacity for their budget by enabling the use of the new generation of high-speed switching gear – without vendor lock-in. Bare-metal gear from Quanta, Accton and Agema deliver unprecedented price-performance. Until now, it was impossible for the majority of companies to take advantage of this hardware
  • Simpler & Greater Agility: Cumulus Linux radically simplifies orchestration, automation and monitoring of networks giving IT the agility to support business applications and imperatives in record time. By providing an underlying OS for common Linux-based toolsets, customers can use automation tools such as Chef or Puppet and monitoring tools like Ganglia and collectd. Cumulus also works with overlay network technologies such as network virtualization from VMware. Because it sits at the edge of the network, Cumulus Linux also allows for routing between physical and virtual servers – an unprecedented capability. As a result, tasks that previously took days or weeks as one-off projects can be standardized and completed in minutes.
  • Affordable: Cumulus Networks drives radical CAPEX and OPEX cost-savings. Because Cumulus Linux runs on a broad array of “bare-metal” network hardware from vendors like Quanta, Accton and Agema, customers can purchase hardware at cost far lower than incumbents. At the same time, hardware running Cumulus Linux can run right alongside existing systems because Cumulus Linux uses industry standard switching and routing protocols. In terms of operational expenditures, Linux-savvy IT teams can use common Linux-based toolsets to administer both server and network infrastructure. More importantly, when companies spend less on hardware per unit they can invest the difference to build better, higher-capacity, more flexible networks.

Cumulus Networks was founded by veteran networking engineers from Cisco and VMware in 2010. Led by CEO JR Rivers and CTO Nolan Leake, the company has raised over $15 million in venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Peter Wagner and four of the original VMware founders.

“Andreessen Horowitz is betting heavily on the transformation of the datacenter from something that was traditionally hardware-centric to a new world where the intelligence lives in software. Nicira was an investment that addressed a key part of this, and now Cumulus Networks is filling another critical piece on the networking side,” said Peter Levine, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz. “The recent announcement from Facebook’s Open Compute Project underscored this need for a Linux OS for networking. Clearly the need is massive. And the opportunities for enterprises and service providers to drive massive new efficiencies in the datacenter is massive as well.”

Cumulus CEO JR Rivers will be speaking at 1:55pm on June 19 during the GigaOM Structure conference in San Francisco. Cumulus Networks will also be exhibiting at Velocity in Santa Clara June 18-20 in booth P6.

Pricing and Availability

Cumulus Linux is commercially available now through an annual subscription-pricing model that includes support and maintenance and scales based on the switch performance capacity.

Published Wednesday, June 19, 2013 6:27 PM by David Marshall
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