When Cumulus Networks was first created, disaggregation was completely disruptive. Organizations of all shapes and sizes were running proprietary hardware and software through every single ounce of their data centers. We went into this industry excited to start something new and make networking faster, smarter, scalable and all-around better. We’re thrilled to report that a lot has changed since then.

This week, Arista announced that their operating system, Arista cEOS™, will support virtual machines, containers and third-party merchant silicon-based switches (ya know, like Cumulus Networks has been doing for quite some time now). This seems like a huge jump for Arista, who has been part of the proprietary school of thought from day one, but we’re honestly not surprised. This is an indicator of just how transformative open networking has been for the industry. It’s taking hold, sinking its teeth into tradition and tearing it apart (both literally and figuratively).

Here are a few other recent signifiers that disaggregation is here to stay:

  • Gartner’s recent data showing 30% growth in white-box switching shipments, driven by the flexibility and significant cost reductions network operators are achieving through software operating systems
  • Gartner reporting that by the year 2020, it is expected that over 40% of enterprises will have a web-scale networking initiative(1)
  • The announcement by Microsoft of SONiC — a collection of software packages/modules that can be installed on Linux on a network hardware switch, making it a complete, functional router
  • The resulting focus by Dell and Mellanox on growing the market with SAI and SONIC
  • Mellanox releasing their new Spectrum ASIC and Barefoot Networks coming out of stealth with the Tofino ASIC, both targeting whitebox networking
  • Facebook announcing their second-generation modular open switch (and the fact the it’s supported by Cumulus Linux!)
  • LinkedIn announcing the Open19 project to develop a new standard for data center infrastructure
  • Many new software-defined technologies coming out from startups and incumbents alike
  • Jim Duffy of Cisco’s quote saying Cisco is “challenged by the transition from hardware to software revenue”(2)
  • Juniper releasing the OCX1100 whitebox switch design to OCP

As you can see, it’s clear that disaggregation is no longer a wild idea festering among a few choice engineers, but a transformative approach to data center networking that is reshaping the industry for good. We’re proud to be pioneers of that, and we’re excited for what’s to come.

We will continue to see innovation and developments in this space. There will be newcomers, converted oldies and everything in between, and we welcome them into this community. The way we see it, the more great thinkers that get behind disaggregation, the quicker it will improve, spread and popularize. Afterall, that’s what open source is all about, right? Let’s come together to make technology better.

 

 

 

  1. Gartner “Bring Web­Scale Networking Concepts to Your Data Center”, Joe Skorupa & Andrew Lerner, November 2016
  2. Gonsalves Antone. “Cisco revenue continues to fall from weak sales in switches, routers”. Tech Target. Febuary 2017.