We are thrilled to announce our integration with Backpack — the industry’s first commercially supported open chassis with Cumulus Linux. You can now have a consistent operating model across fixed and modular platforms.

With Backpack and Cumulus Linux, you can simplify hyperscaling your network infrastructure, especially as you migrate from 40G to 100G platforms.

When Facebook first approached us about the technology, we were thrilled to be a part of it. We’ve always believed the chassis is an important part of the ecosystem, but we also knew the technology needed to be improved.

In fact, when Cumulus Networks was first founded, we were working on developing a chassis that would work seamlessly with open networking ecosystems. No really, we did! Don’t believe us? Here’s the proof:


Clearly, we never quite got it right. But luckily for us and open networking enthusiasts everywhere, Facebook did. Read more about Facebook and Cumulus Networks.

What is Backpack?

This is Facebook’s second generation modular switch platform based on web-scale principles. Cumulus Networks collaborated with Facebook to provide ONIE support for Backpack. Backpack is an 8RU chassis with 128x 100G ports built as a distributed model where each line card and fabric card have dedicated CPUs within the chassis running independent OS instances.

Our favorite part? When ordered through Cumulus Networks or one of our authorized channel partners, it comes with Cumulus Linux preloaded. This allows for a consistent operating model across fixed and modular platforms resulting in easier configuration and management, a common toolset for automation and monitoring, and significant cost savings.

Wait, a chassis with Cumulus Linux? Really?

We hear you. You’re a little surprised that after years of supporting fixed-form factor switches, we’re now promoting a chassis. That’s fair enough, but we assure you this isn’t the chassis of data centers past.

Unlike the traditional chassis, Backpack is built on a web-scale architecture where each line card and fabric card have dedicated CPUs within the chassis and run independent OS instances. With Cumulus Linux, Backpack leverages industry-standard routing protocols for control and communication within the chassis — increasing reliability and simplifying troubleshooting.

As a distributed model, Backpack brings operational efficiencies that the traditional chassis lacked. By eliminating the need for a supervisor card and packing 128x 100G ports in an 8RU chassis, it’s an ideal solution for customers who are looking for a simple and scalable solution, while preserving web-scale principles.

With Backpack you get increased redundancy as it allows the load of the control plane to spread across all the cards. With technology like that, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to provide our customers with a solution that is easy to procure and deploy while adopting web-scale networking methodology.

In short, the chassis changed, so we changed, too.

What are the benefits of Backpack?

We’re glad you asked. Here are four benefits — just to name a few.

  1. Simplicity: Backpack comes with 128 x 100G front panel ports with a non-blocking fabric, which is equivalent to 12 x 1U 100G fixed-form factor switches. This reduces sourcing, eases deployment by eliminating 128 cables and 256 optics and management complexities.
  2. Flexibility: This is the first open networking modular design switch that customers can commercially buy and load their choice of network OS.
  3. Operational efficiency: The orthogonal chassis architecture enables better airflow and thermal performance, which reduces cooling and power requirements.
  4. Scalability: Backpack follows the web-scale principles that allows customers to maintain consistent automated provisioning across all their switches of different form-factor (fixed or chassis).

Backpack is the first commercially available open chassis. This is just one more step towards eliminating vendor lock-in from the data center and transforming networks using web-scale principles that are cost effective and shorten deployment time.

So how do those benefits manifest in my data center?

This new technology isn’t only transforming the industry. It can transform the way you design and operate your organization’s data center. Backpack running Cumulus Linux can be utilized for:

  • Spine layers for clusters (pods) with a lot of racks
  • Super-spines for aggregating many pods together

All of this while maintaining the pervasive networking model from your servers to leaf and spine switches, fixed or chassis form-factor.

Okay, so how do I get it?

Our availability of Backpack adds another critical piece to the open networking portfolio for our customers that are looking for top-of-rack, spine, chassis or network management solution. Customers can pre-order the chassis and Cumulus Linux from Cumulus Networks directly or from any of our authorized channel partners.

Want to learn more about getting started? Contact our sales team now.

For more information, read the press release or head to the Facebook blog.