When’s the last time you had the opportunity to learn about a new area of technology? Not just the latest API but something big. With the emergence of open networking, now may be the time to do just that.

Open networking is becoming more wide spread in data centers, partly because of CapEx savings and customer choice from disaggregation of hardware and software. From an operational standpoint, the efficiencies of automating and managing switches like servers may be even more compelling. Those efficiencies – and resulting OpEx savings – are from using a real Linux OS for the network.

As a Linux operating system running network switches, Cumulus Linux presents a learning opportunity for two specific groups of users: network administrators who are new to Linux, and Linux administrators who are new to networking. Open networking represents a radical improvement in network management, but as with most major changes, there’s a learning curve.

Learning a new language (but still saying the same things).

Leaving IOS, NX-OS, or JunOS for Cumulus Linux means rediscovering how to perform tasks that network administrators have been doing the same way for years. This often means tweaking existing knowledge to understand where familiar commands and configurations have moved or how they have evolved. Familiar networking tasks now feel as if they are written in a foreign language. Additionally, the plethora of tools and add-ons available for Cumulus Linux can feel intimidating, especially considering the limited options available with traditional network operating systems. In the long term, Cumulus Linux makes network management simpler through automation and process improvements, but it requires a new perspective.

Likewise, Linux administrators who are assigned switches to manage may face new concepts and components that they have to figure out. Although automation and system configurations are the same with Cumulus Linux as with other Linux distributions, administrators now have to learn networking tasks that they have never needed to know before. Although Cumulus Networks wrote the switchd process to enable the Linux kernel to manage networking ASICs, no such extension exists for our human administrators.

Once you get open networking in place with Cumulus Linux, you can innovate, create what you need — across both servers and the network. The ability to discover creative solutions is a major part of what the software defined data center is really all about.

Finding your way in the new landscape.

There are numerous resources to help you get started. The Cumulus Networks knowledge base is available for free and contains numerous demo scripts and articles comparing Cumulus Linux configurations to those on traditional vendors. Linux tutorials are only a Web search away. However, both of these resources address specific problems rather than providing an understanding of the environment as a whole.

Cumulus Networks recognizes this challenge and provides a way to ease the transition to open networking. Our Customer Enablement team offers education services to help you along your journey. Whether your background is in enterprise networking or Linux, we can help you become a Cumulus Linux star in your organization.

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The Cumulus Linux Boot Camp provides hands-on instruction on the architecture, packaging, installation, provisioning, configuration, operation, and management of Cumulus Linux running on bare metal switches. This 8-hour course includes instructor-led lectures and hands-on time with actual switches, not simulators, providing an immersive learning experience. The course is designed for novices in both networking and Linux and so is ideal for administrators of all levels.

The complete list of available classes can be found on our website. We’re here to help you thrive in the era of open networking. This is a technology shift that’s really worth learning about.