The Cumulus Networks story

Our mantra: simplicity, transparency, and scalability

Cumulus Networks has made a name for itself by shaking up the networking industry. With over 1800 customers and with over 30% of the Fortune 50, it’s clear open networking is on its way to becoming the new industry norm.

But we didn’t start out like this. In fact, Cumulus Networks quite literally began in a garage.

After years in the biz (JR from networking and compute infrastructure and Nolan from virtualization), JR Rivers and Nolan Leake repeatedly saw how businesses spend too much budget on networking while not getting anything out of it. They knew the industry had to change. The pair officially founded Cumulus Networks in 2010 after watching the Linux Kernel and virtualization mechanisms steadily come to the attention of the networking world.

JR and Nolan

It started with the tech

Nolan and JR wanted to create a networking solution that was going to last long term, one that was going to be able to scale as time progressed, and one that offered affordable big solutions for small companies. Cumulus Linux was born.

Coffe RT

Based on the idea that infrastructure matters: simplicity, transparency and scalability are of utmost importance in the data center (even though they weren’t being seen that way). We then got to work on developing a Linux-based operating system that allows customers to customize their networking solution like never before. Suddenly, people had freedom of choice in both hardware and software.

It grew with the help of a lot of good people

One of JR Rivers’ core beliefs in starting a business was that people should love where they work — they should love what they are doing and feel supported doing it. And this focus on company culture has paid off.

With the help of the community and several talented individuals, the ONIE project was launched, propelling disaggregation into the networking space and challenging the status quo of traditional hardware in order to pave the way for Linux networking. Since then, Cumulus has worked closely with the open source community, participating in FRR Routing, the Linux Kernel and so much more. Open networking is all about making innovation accessible, which is why the open source community was and is a critical part of our journey.


Since our inception, Cumulus has grown exponentially, and while, according to JR, every single new employee hire was a milestone, seeing the original sign go up at the Mountain View office was a shining moment. An ode to hard work and perseverance, they had finally gone from that little garage to a full fledged business.

And it took off with a turtle

While Rocket Turtle may have been born simply because Nolan owned a turtle, it’s come to represent what Cumulus Networks has been about: shaking up the networking industry in such a way that it’s impossible to ignore.


Keep in touch

Learn about all the solutions and products that Cumulus has to offer here. And if you’d like to hear more from our thought leaders, check out the Cumulus network engineering blog. It’s full of educational content on both our products and the industry as a whole.