The dynamics of IT are changing, especially when it comes to the demands on the network. As many have predicted, big data, mobile and the Internet of Things are putting significant and ever-increasing pressure on the network. Most networks and legacy management tools, therefore, are unprepared for the added stress placed on already-fragile infrastructures while the rest of the data center has sped ahead.

As more and more data is created and transferred between resources, the network must be increasingly resilient, dynamic and agile to adjust to application demands accordingly. As data and applications become increasingly distributed, there is an inherent architectural dependence on the interconnect, which enables these resources to work in concert to deliver application workloads. That interconnect, the network, must undergo its own transformation to meet the new needs of a modern network.

Our founders at Cumulus Networks recognized the challenges that were mounting nearly a decade ago and set out to build a more modern network, one that is modeled from the web-scale giants including Google, Amazon, and Facebook to better address applications of the future.

I’m very happy to announce that Cumulus Networks is now enabling customers to meet modern network challenges with our 4th-Generation of open, modern software designed to run and operate modern, data center and campus networks that are simple, open, agile, resilient and scalable.

With nearly 10 years of focused development, our 4th-Generation of Cumulus Linux 4.0 extends our open source leadership in networking that began with contributions such as ONIE, VRF, FRRouting, Prescriptive Topology Manager (PTM), and EVPN among others.   In addition, we’ve made cutting edge enhancements across the board that span the latest in L2/L3 connectivity, NetDevOps practices including automation, simulation, CI/CD and Infrastructure-as-Code(IaC), as well as useability, operations and visibility/troubleshooting.

Most recently, we’ve added enhancements in Linux including kernel and support for SwitchDev, an open source in-kernel abstraction model, providing a standardized way to program switch ASICs and speed development time. In addition, Cumulus Linux simulation capabilities are unequaled in the industry, allowing our customers to leverage native integration with automation tools to enable high fidelity, 1-to-1 network simulation across both data center and campus with almost no size limits. This unique feature allows operators to easily validate network configurations and eliminate the risk of error.

Cumulus Linux 4.0 is our most reliable, robust and performant version and is a highly competitive and mature alternative to proprietary networks. It offers a host of cutting edge features that move our customers beyond legacy layer-2 networks into Layer 3 network virtualization with EVPN, EVPN multicast-based replication, and EVPN Multihoming that enables MLAG architectures without legacy interswitch links. Plus, Cumulus Linux enables simplified data center configurations with smart data center defaults and advanced automation as we begin to introduce full data model-driven configurations.

In addition, 4.0 includes support for the widest range of hardware platforms: 134 platforms across 14 ASICs. Newly added support for Mellanox’s Spectrum-2 chipset for faster performance, Broadcom’s Qumran chipset for deep buffering at the top of rack, Facebook’s Minipack– an open, modular chassis with a single 12.8TB chip for high density spine deployments, and additional campus networking platforms with Dell.

Spectrum-2 platforms are the latest addition to the Cumulus hardware supported switches and are a combination of extremely fast and extremely smart ASIC technology. With its rich set of features and innovative capabilities, including increased flexibility, port density, and What Just Happened (WJH) visibility into hardware packet drops, Spectrum-2 is optimized for cloud, hyperscale, big data, artificial intelligence, financial, storage applications and more.

Cumulus Linux is now compatible with over 130 switch platforms, allowing maximized choice and flexibility to customers.

Also included in our 4th-Generation announcement is Cumulus NetQ 2.4. In this latest release of NetQ and NetQ Cloud, Cumulus has added a number of features and support for ecosystem partner features including Mellanox’s “What Just Happened” (WJH) feature. WJH is an advanced streaming telemetry technology that provides real time visibility into problems in the network, going beyond conventional telemetry solutions by providing actionable details on abnormal network behavior. WJH provides visibility into hardware packet drops for any reason including buffer congestion, incorrect routing, ACL or layer 1 problems. When the single box WJH capabilities are combined with the analytics engine of Cumulus NetQ, you now have the ability to hone in on any loss, anywhere in the fabric, from a single management console.

Cumulus NetQ with Mellanox WJH provides the ability to not only view any current or historic drops and specific drop reasons, but also the ability to identify any flow or endpoints and pin-point exactly where communication is failing in the network. The NetQ event analytics engine will identify any changes in the network that triggered the packet drops, reducing mean time to innocence or repair.

NetQ/NetQ Cloud 2.4 offers new features including Snapshot and Compare and Threshold Crossing Alerts (TCA).. TCA combined with NetQ’s existing CPU/Memory/Interface monitoring features, provides a faster way to get to the root cause of network issues by alerting IT when critical resource limits have been reached.

In addition, NetQ/NetQ Cloud 2.4 includes enhancements to clustering, high availability, workflows and the NetQ GUI. Finally, NetQ 2.4 offers the new Follow the MAC feature, which is very powerful when used in a virtualization or container environment.

Summary:

As closed/proprietary vendors struggle to innovate or integrate technology into complex existing network architectures, the pressure of increasingly demanding applications, snowballing complexity, vendor lock-in, high cost of innovation, high margins, lack of flexibility and deteriorating customer satisfaction that is a result, continues to erode customer confidence and their perception of the derived value.

Conversely, there is a similar set of factors that are increasing customer confidence and value in favor of open, simple, disaggregated and modern network architectures. These capabilities enable interoperability and increased flexibility and choice, while delivering supply chain freedom with uniform operating models and lower overall TCO.

The transition to open networking, led by Cumulus Networks and our ecosystem partners, is accelerating network transformation, exactly like we’ve seen for server and storage architectures already. The transition to open networking is inevitable.

If you’d like to learn more, you’ll find a full set of collaterals, videos, web pages and a press release below but don’t take my word for it, I would suggest you try Cumulus Linux and NetQ for yourself by taking a test drive.


4th-Generation Cumulus Networks Press Release
Mellanox Spectrum-2 and WJH Overview Video
Cumulus Linux Web Page
Cumulus Linux Datasheet
Cumulus Linux Solution Overview
EVPN-PIM Blog Part 1
EVPN-PIM Blog Part 2
Cumulus NetQ and NetQ Cloud Web Page
Cumulus NetQ and NetQ Cloud Datasheet

To join our live webinar with Amit Katz, Mellanox Technologies, and Pete Lumbis, Cumulus Networks, entitled, “Network Wide Streaming Telemetry“ on Wednesday, November 20th at 9 am Pacific, please register here.

If you would like to see Cumulus Linux 4.0 and NetQ/NetQ Cloud 2.4 in action, don’t hesitate to contact your sales team for a demo. Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, or via Twitter at @CicconeScott.