From day one, Cumulus Networks has always believed in making data center networking easier and better. To us, that never stopped at just an operating system. Our goal has always been to unify the entire stack on Linux and bring web-scale principles to all aspects of the data center networking process — from network to operations; from host to switch. This was one of the many key drivers behind our introduction of NetQ, a fabric validation system designed to make network operator’s lives easier by ensuring the network is behaving as intended. Today, we launch the next critical step in web-scale networking — Cumulus Host Pack.
Host Pack offers software essentials that bring the host into the network. It optimizes visibility and connectivity into Cumulus Linux network fabric from end to end. Your entire stack can now be unified with the same language and the same tooling using the Linux networking model. Host Pack ensures real-time reliability and uptime to the container by leveraging NetQ to enhance visibility of the host. In addition to visibility, Host Pack enhances network scalability and connectivity by enabling the host to be part of the layer 3 network, while completely supporting popular layer 2 overlay networks.
Why Host Pack?
Many companies have started to consider containerized applications due to their flexibility, agility and efficiency in comparison to dedicated virtual machines. In fact, 451 Research predicts containers will see the fastest growth of all Cloud-Enabling Technologies (CET) to become a $2.7BN market by 2020.
Because containers are constantly created and destroyed, and because workloads are often moved to different physical machines or migrated to completely different data centers, a new way of thinking about the underlying network is essential to data center success. Host Pack is the first of its kind to address the challenges network operators face in achieving end-to-end network visibility and connectivity of containerized applications.
You may be asking, what network challenges is Host Pack really addressing? Good question. Although containers have become popular due to their flexibility and ease with which they can be created and destroyed, they also introduce significant challenges:
- Dangerous network blind spots: The short-lived, ephemeral nature of containers makes them difficult to identify and track, making consistent, real-time visibility and troubleshooting with traditional network tools virtually impossible. The accessibility of containers also makes it possible to put them on untrusted network segments, leading to dangerous network blind spots.
- Increased network complexity: The fleeting nature of containers and microservices demand a simple yet high-performing network that adapts quickly to the ever-changing schema. Network architectures and manual deployment methods from the last decade aren’t suited for this type of environment because they impede enterprise adoption of production deployments at scale.
- Significant performance delays: Using containers at scale with tools traditionally used only by DevOps teams creates roadblocks and performance delays for network operators.
Host Pack for container networking and microservices:
With the introduction of containers came the introduction of new challenges and complexities. Host Pack was designed to acknowledge these challenges head-on, and dissolve the pain points network operators and application designers are facing today. Host Pack offers:
- Granular container visibility for faster debugging: Host Pack gives operational and development teams shared visibility of application availability through popular container orchestration tools such as Mesosphere, Kubernetes, and Docker Swarm. Enabled by NetQ running on the host, network operators can easily view the health of container services, keep track of container locations, track IP addresses and open ports, and have deep insights into where an issue resides, allowing for faster troubleshooting.
- Simplified network connectivity for improved performance: With the use of routing protocols such as FRRouting and BGP unnumbered directly on the host and in a Layer 3 architecture, Cumulus’ network fabric is able to dynamically learn about containers and distribute these addresses throughout the network to ensure predictable performance between containers across host environments. This removes the complications of a Layer 2 overhead, provides rich and reliable multipathing, simplifies IP address management, and increases reliability.
- A common data center operating model, Linux, from network to containers: Cumulus Linux utilizes the same Linux networking model that is foundational to container systems. This enables the use of a common operational toolset, guarantees interoperability, and reduces complexity across the entire data center.
Cumulus in the Cloud
Along with launching Host Pack, we’ve launched a brand new virtual data center experience where you can try out features and technology — including Host Pack. This pre-loaded data center experience consists of two racks with two dual-homed servers connected with a leaf-spine network. Mesosphere DC/OS provides a platform-as-a-service and is hosting a simple scale out application.
What should you do next?
To roll out this exciting launch, we’ve put together a variety of different content pieces, from technical to benefit-focused, so that you can learn everything there is to know about Host Pack.
Product page: Watch a video, read the benefits and understand the architecture behind Host Pack. This is your one-stop-shop to access all of our Host Pack content.
Data sheet: To view all the features and specifications, check out our data sheet for a technical overview.
“Intro to containers” white paper: This white paper covers the purpose of containers, how they can be used and deployed and how Cumulus Networks makes them easier to manage.
Learn more about containers: Access our container solution page to learn more about containers and to access our several different design guides that provide step-by-step instructions on how to deploy Cumulus Host Pack.