A few weeks ago, I set out to the beautiful city of Vancouver’s convention center, along with a boatload of rocket turtles and a stellar team. It was a great time with a wonderful scenic view of the ocean. I’ve been at Cumulus a few months now, but I can’t help but enjoy looking around, seeing the friends I’ve made in the industry, and the friends and companies Cumulus has worked with over the years. It is exciting to have thousands of people coming together at OpenStack Summit Vancouver to work on a shared goal.
This year, we were lucky enough to have our very own Pete Lumbis take the stage with David Iles of Mellanox to present our joint solution around the latest SDN revolution, which is centered on creating efficient virtualized data center networks using VXLAN & EVPN.
In the next few paragraphs, I’ll share some highlights of the event, some photos, and a recap of that exact discussion. There was a lot to learn and discover, and I’m excited to share the details.
Day 1: Don’t you just love working with collaborative open source projects?
On our first day, lots of things were going on — we set up the booth, handed out turtle swag and enjoyed enriching conversations with people from every country imaginable. We met all sorts of interesting people: cloud engineers, network engineers and some with a mix of skills. Many are running private clouds, some are running massive GPU data centers mining cryptocurrencies as a service, and many are voice and video service providers among others.
One of our favorite parts about going to conferences is getting face-to-face time with our customers and partners. We’re all about openness over here, so we see this as an opportunity to share ideas and experiences.
At the event, there were 30 open source projects touching all pieces of the stack, including Ansible, Ceph, Kubernetes, OpenContrail and a lot more. We were demoing our Cumulus products using our Cumulus in the Cloud lab.
That day, one major announcement of a new Openstack project that came out was ‘Airship’, which is a collection of interoperable and loosely coupled open source tools that provide for automated cloud provisioning and life cycle management in a completely declarative and predictable way. The focus of this project is the implementation of a declarative platform to introduce OpenStack on Kubernetes, two orchestration platforms that integrate with both Cumulus NetQ and Cumulus Linux technologies.
Day 2: A good day for Cumulus
Another key highlight of the conference was the announcement made by Cumulus Networks and Mellanox Technologies — we’re excited to share that we’re working together with Vault Systems, an Australian government-certified cloud service provider. They are building sophisticated clouds that serve important data and are required to securely scale into 10s of thousands of workloads instantly. Vault Systems must build to comply with strict government directions to ensure system security and stability.
They couldn’t meet all the controls and compliance with a proprietary solution, and that is why they have chosen Mellanox end-to-end Ethernet hardware and Cumulus software to deploy a solution that is fully integrated with their Openstack.
According to Roland Cabana, DevOps manager at Vault Systems, “We’ve come to a happy place.” Thanks to open networking, they found the sweet spot for agility and stability of networking and security in their data center deployments.
Roland further discussed programmability choices in these networks. Cumulus’ networking OS allowed them to bring in their automation team and and actually use more of a DevOps toolset to create the deployment from a code perspective, instead of having a lot of engineers hardcoding things right on the actual production systems. This allowed them to gate a lot of the changes and ensure the government security policies are applied.
For the last part of that fine day, we were lucky enough to have the Openstack Summit stage Our Technical Marketing Engineer Pete Lumbis and David Iles of Mellanox showed off an impressive presentation: “Marrying OpenStack’s Virtual & Bare Metal Cloud Networks.”
In this informative session, David kicked it off by saying that this is not a vendor presentation — it’s about technology. They covered challenges in the data center today, best practices and more, but let’s go into a little more detail about some of the big points they made.
The most common requirement of all private clouds today is to support multi-tenancy. A data center operator will definitely have two end customers with different networking and security policies that will share the cloud, another challenge we see today is scaling out. That is a problem that will not be solved with bigger boxes. David ended up with the challenge of stretching VLAN based networks.
All these problems are tackled with VXLAN and EVPN technologies. We are seeing a market move from the single-tenant clouds to multi-tenant OpenStack private clouds. This is what we call modern fabrics, and this trend is apparent in the global adoption of our solutions to build VXLAN based technologies as we move away from the traditional VLAN based designs.
Pete talked about what powers the Cumulus software solution, which I like to (metaphorically) describe as a full course menu. It starts with OpenStack integration plugins and validated designs. This networking meal is served alongside industry innovation leadership in all layers of the web-scale networking stack, and a wide range of tooling, automation and telemetry. Last and definitely not least, we finish with a dessert of routing protocol contributions.
The next part exemplified another common design that we support. Pete paints the picture of how one solution can mesh with pure software-based VXLAN deployments.
The presenters elaborated on the scale, performance and cost advantages of using a modern controller-free virtualized network built on 100 Gigabit ethernet switches with hardware based VXLAN routing.
Lastly, Pete and David explored how to automate such a network in an OpenStack environment and walked the audience through a real world use case of using OpenStack network node bridging between a bare metal cloud (EVPN) and a fully virtualized cloud environment (orchestrated by Neutron).
The conference was a great success, full of lots of ideas to work on, lots of inspiring conversations and all sorts of new friends. We even gave away a guitar in the spirit of networking with S.O.U.L (Simple, Open, Untethered, Linux). Congrats to Shane from the General Electric private cloud team for winning a guitar!