An essential part of open networking is the ability to choose your own hardware. This allows for customization of your network to suit business needs, and it can also dramatically reduce your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). On average, open networking with Cumulus helps customers reduce their capital expenditures (CapEx) by about 45% and operational expenditures (OpEx) in the range of approximately 50% to 75%.
Choosing the right hardware is a big part of these savings. If you compare bare-metal networking equipment with a similar product from a proprietary networking vendor, you’ll quickly find that bare-metal hardware is much less expensive. One reason for this is competition between hardware vendors in the open networking space.
Open networking is a multi-vendor ecosystem. More than 100 switches are certified to work with Cumulus Linux; they’re manufactured by vendors such as Dell, HPE, Mellanox, Supermicro, and others. Unlike with proprietary switches, there’s no vendor lock-in creating a monopoly situation. In the open networking space, vendors compete for sales, and this keeps costs down.
Another factor in lowering costs is the degree of customization available when you have many products to choose from. Choosing your own hardware means buying what you need—and only what you need. With a large range of available products, you can find hardware at a size and scale that suits your current IT requirements. You don’t have to use a one-size-fits-all network design, and you don’t need to keep largely unused hardware sitting around “just in case.” When growth happens, you can add infrastructure as needed.
While it’s important to avoid exorbitant upfront costs, CapEx isn’t the only factor in determining TCO. It’s important to consider how operating costs will affect the calculation. OpEx includes day-to-day costs of running the data center such as staffing, rent, and power. Of these, payroll is a significant expense.
Open networking with Cumulus Linux can help your IT staff work more efficiently, getting more done for each dollar spent on wages. Many IT practitioners are already familiar with Linux, and you may already be using Linux in your data center. There’s no need to recruit staff with specific vendor certifications (although, if you’re looking for IT training opportunities, Cumulus offers both free educational resources and competitively priced, hands-on courses).
If Linux is already in use in your data center, you can realize additional savings by leveraging existing automation and monitoring tools. This allows IT staff to manage switches just like they do their servers. A familiar and standardized operating environment increases efficiency.
Automate Like Netflix
Automation is another way to improve efficiency and reduce OpEx. Cumulus Linux uses open standards and open APIs, making it easily addressable by automation tools. A highly automated network allows a single staff member to manage many more switches than they could in a traditional environment. Some of Cumulus’s customers have gone from needing one operator for every 50 switches to managing 200 switches per operator. Network automation is how web-scale giants like Google and Netflix run their infrastructure in a cost-effective manner. Cumulus Linux makes it easy for anyone to realize web-scale savings, regardless of size.
Most importantly, there’s no need to sacrifice quality or features to realize savings. Open switches are built around “off-the-shelf” silicon, which means that they’re quick to incorporate new technological developments. New generations of chips become available every 18 to 24 months, and open networking vendors release products accordingly. In contrast, proprietary ASICs used by legacy vendors have longer production cycles, and features lag behind.
Are We Really Compatible?
As noted before, Cumulus Linux has been tested for compatibility and certified to work on more than 100 switches from different vendors. If there’s an issue, Cumulus Networks Global Support Services (GSS) is available 24/7 to help. GSS can identify the root cause of an issue and coordinate with hardware vendors as needed to solve the problem. Open networking comes with world-class support and services.
Organizations have diverse needs, and these needs change with time. The ability to select the right hardware for the task can be a competitive advantage. Choosing your own hardware can lower both CapEx and OpEx, and give you greater flexibility in designing a network to meet business requirements.
This ability to avoid vendor lock-in and choose your hardware is a large part of the reason Cumulus customers enjoy 75% greater efficiency, and reduce their TCO by up to 60%. Why not try it out for free, and see what Cumulus can do for you?