In past jobs, when I was responsible for the architecture and engineering of networks, my peers and I would often spend immeasurable time working in the lab and testing out the setup of new network designs or approaches that we were looking to implement.
As anyone who has had to build a lab themselves will attest, you never have enough gear, power or space to do all of the testing you would like. Between the problems of having to build the network from gear that’s been cast-off from the production network to not being able to run the latest software, you can end up questioning your testing results. From being limited on cooling and power to having to find and run the cables to connect it all together, it can be a lot of work that may not answer everything you need for production.
In the networking space, this just hasn’t been viable. Most networking solutions are built around an abstract control plane, which only talks to the underlying hardware. And while most leverage Linux for their kernel, they don’t leverage it directly, so the virtual solution often requires emulation of the hardware or translations to occur if it’s to run in a virtual environment. Because Cumulus® Linux® directly leverages the Linux kernel, this is not a problem for us, and beginning today, with Cumulus® VX™, you can now simulate your network in a virtual environment.
Cumulus VX takes the network applications and tools that are in Cumulus Linux and delivers them in a virtual machine for use with many different hypervisors, leveraging the Linux kernel to provide the switching and routing. Now you can more easily learn about open networking, test out new network topologies, simulate changes with your routing protocols, and validate many automation tools and approaches all within your laptop or desktop.
Along with this, we are going to have a dedicated section to our newly launched open networking community that will allow users of Cumulus VX to ask for assistance, provide suggestions, have a place to share what they have done and otherwise be able to interact with one another on the solution. The open nature of Cumulus VX will also lend itself to be used in ways we probably haven’t even thought of, so providing a community exchange point for this was integral to the solution.
So now if my role was to design and deploy large network systems, I know that I could simulate it ahead of time, ensure that the solution works and develop the configuration and automation needed to see it deployed in production with nothing more then a PC or laptop.