Organizations are moving to private, hybrid and public cloud so they can create more flexible and more cost-efficient IT operations. The goal is to leverage software which interacts with quality, commodity hardware to create a programmable data center. Underpinning these cloud-like infrastructures is the network. Organizations are finding that legacy network solutions create a significant roadblock to a private and hybrid cloud future.
The Legacy Network Roadblock
For decades, legacy network products have been sold as complete solutions that included the networking operating system, network management functions and were proprietarily purpose-built. To some extent, this approach was needed to make sure the network was able to deliver the promised speeds. The problem is the data center is locked into these components going forward.
These legacy solutions provided limited ability to manage multiple switches. Their solution was to force an upgrade to the next largest switch. Also, if the organization wanted to switch networking vendors, even for one project, interoperability, especially from the software perspective, was almost non-existent between vendors. As a result, most data centers were known as a Cisco Shop, an Arista Shop, or a Juniper Shop.
What is Open Networking?
The big advancement toward open networking started several years ago as merchant silicon, provided mostly by Broadcom, gave manufacturers the ability to deliver high-quality hardware switches. Essentially, Broadcom did to networking what Intel did to servers. Each of these software vendors created their own unique networking software, which provides basic functionality and is suitable for small environments with only a few switches.
The next advancement toward open networking came as software companies created open network operating systems (NOS) that could work across a variety of switches. An open NOS provided more advanced functionality and enabled organizations to manage multiple switches from multiple vendors through a single interface. They also provided the ability to manage multiple individual switches as if they were a single switch. With an open NOS, the networking software is fully disaggregated from the hardware, making the environment easier to manage and providing the organization the opportunity to realize tremendous capex and opex savings.
The final advancement is advanced programmability and telemetry. Open NOS vendors are adding the ability, via a graphical user interface (GUI) or a command line, to automatically program switches based on the current needs in the environment. This programming enables organizations to use the NOS to have switch ports automatically configure themselves when a new workload is added or a workload is moved.
Introducing Cumulus Networks
Cumulus Networks developed an open, web-scale network operating system and a network operations tool set that i provides the organization with the ability to design, run, and operate modern data centers that are simple, open, agile, resilient, and scalable. Web-scale networking solutions adhere to three constructs. First, there is the need to be open and modular. Second, the bulk of the network intelligence needs to be in the software. Third, the software needs to enable scaling and efficiency.
Cumulus’ NOS software, Cumulus Linux, supports over one hundred hardware platforms providing organizations with maximum freedom in hardware selection. It provides both Layer 2 and Layer 3 networking. Administrators can program the NOS’ behavior so that networking configuration happens in real-time as part of the workload provisioning process. Cumulus Linux is programmable and has a command line, something that most network administrators prefer both for speed of execution and usability.
When it is time to take a step back and get a more visual view of the network, Cumulus offers NetQ which provides real-time data collection and deep analytics. Cumulus NetQ 2.0 provides in-depth, network visibility of your entire fabric in real-time, delivering actionable insights and operational intelligence into the health of your Linux-based data center — from the container, virtual machine, or host, all the way to the switch and port. It enables IT to validate network designs and simplify troubleshooting. NetQ is unique in that it can collect telemetry and metadata across all of these elements providing a more holistic data center view.
Open Networking promises to deliver increased flexibility, control and agility, while also driving significant capex and opex savings in the network. For organizations setting course for the cloud (private, hybrid or public) it is the only logical way to scale infrastructure and make sure that IT can react to new workloads as quickly as the organization can now add them. Cumulus Linux provides very robust support of open networking switches and an interface designed for the modern programmable data center. Cumulus NetQ provides organizations with with real-time actionable insights and operational intelligence necessary to validate and troubleshoot large networking infrastructures.