If you’ve heard the buzz in the networking world lately, or if you’ve been paying attention to the back-to-back launches by Cumulus Networks as of late, then you’ve probably heard the term, “web-scale networking.” But what does that actually mean?

The term web-scale networking is inspired by data center giants like Facebook and Google. The industry looked at data centers like theirs and asked, “what are they doing that we can mimic at a smaller scale?” By analyzing these organizations and the benefits they receive from their tactics, the term “web-scale” was born. Essentially, web-scale refers to the hyperscale website companies that have built private, efficient and scalable cloud environments.

Web-scale networking: a definition

Web-scale networking is simply a modern architectural approach to infrastructure. The differentiating components are taken from the key requirements that large data center operators use to build smart networks. Businesses can design cost-effective, agile networks for the modern era by adhering to these three constructs:

  • Open and modular
  • Intelligence in software
  • Scalable and efficient

These three constructs essentially comprise web-scale networking.

While compute has advanced through leaps and bounds with the convergence to private, public and hybrid clouds, networking has notoriously lagged behind. An open networking philosophy brings traditional networking up to par with the advancements of a web-based approach. Open, web-scale networking provides automation, accuracy and cost-savings to the data center.

Tactical benefits of open, web-scale networking

Automation is more accessible, and more powerful, than ever

Open networking allows organizations to choose the ideal hardware and software for their budget and needs. This means you can use existing automation software or integrate something new. With an open environment, it’s easy to standardize protocols, identify issues and create a unified stack that communicates efficiently.

No more vendor lock-in

Have you ever wanted to upgrade certain components of your network to another vendor’s product, but refuse to go the “rip and replace” route because of both cost and risk? Most organizations are faced with the problem of “vendor lock” because it is too costly to switch systems and vendors. Web-scale networking allows you to choose the network switches, cables, optics, applications and more — based on your needs and your budget.

Operational efficiency

By unifying the stack, customizing hardware and automating software, organizations can completely streamline their processes. Engineers can identify and fix issues quicker. Operators can deploy faster. And organizations can multiply the amount of switches managed per operator. All of these benefits result in better DevOps, greater efficiency and lower TCO.

Learn more about the basics of web-scale networking. 

Is it difficult to transition to open networking?

The short answer? With the innovations and robust feature set offered by Cumulus Linux, no. It’s not difficult at all (in fact, we’d call in pretty easy!).

However, to understand the accessibility of web networking now, it’s important to understand how the industry has evolved. Despite the many benefits to a web-scale, open networking approach to the data center, the networking industry has been slow to adopt this latest innovation. Why is that?

Networking is a complex ecosystem that has intricacies not seen in data storage, applications and other areas of the data center. Due to this complexity, in the past, there has been a lack of tools to adequately manage a web-scale approach to open networking.

Organizations were locked into proprietary, expensive hardware and software, or they lacked the technical expertise needed to configure an open environment.

However many of these challenges are simply misalignments. Many organizations find that once they make the commitment to go web-scale, leveraging in-house talent to create a more efficient, scalable network is easy.

With Cumulus Linux, there are a lot of ways to get started, including:

  • Download Cumulus VX to try, prototype and test out the software at no cost
  • Create a small, in-house server room to build out your first open environment and see for yourself how easy it is to automate and optimize
  • Create a hybrid cloud environment to easily compare the benefits of web-scale IT to mainstream approaches
  • Talk to one of our representatives to get a customized analysis of how Cumulus Networks can help you

How Cumulus Networks makes transitioning to open networking a breeze

Cumulus Networks lets you transition to open networking seamlessly. Not only is the technology advanced, offering benefits exclusive to Cumulus Linux, there are several features created solely with the purpose of making adoption easy:

Cumulus VX: Our community-supported virtual appliance allows cloud admins and network
engineers to preview and test Cumulus Networks technology at zero cost. Prototype, test and learn before you buy.

NCLU: Taking the concept of the practical command line interface, in which most if not all network engineers are familiar, NCLU provides a modern and easy-to-use interface to access and utilize existing and future Linux networking tools.

NCLU grants users one central point from which they can manually drive the system, providing the ability to run the network in a manner that is familiar to network engineers, and apply all the benefits of standardizing on Linux to achieve significant operational efficiency.

Moreover, the interface offers embedded help, configuration suggestions and examples that help you translate well-known network commands, drastically reducing the learning curve.

Snapshots: Snapshots were designed solely with engineers in mind. Ever make a command line mistake you wished you could take back? Be honest, we know you have. Snapshots ensure that no command is permanent (unless you want it to be). The technology allows you to easily revert back or easily view what commands have been made in the past so that you can identify issues quickly.

Prescriptive Topology Manager (PTM): Go straight from the whiteboard to the network without skipping a beat (or a command). PTM creates operational efficiency for creating the topology, implementing it, monitoring it and fixing issues. Streamlined process is your new reality.

Cumulus Express: Our turnkey solutions provides hardware and software all in one, allowing for an accelerated time to market and a one-stop shop for support.

These are just a few of the benefits of web-scale networking via Cumulus Linux, but the opportunities and use cases are endless.

Learn more about how Cumulus Linux will allow you to easily realize the benefits of a web-scale approach – interoperability, scalability and dramatic cost-savings – providing the relief that open networking brings, and ultimately making your job a whole lot easier.

To learn about how your organization, can implement web-scale networking, check out this Gartner report that goes into detail on how to create an environment where web-scale networking is both accepted and easy to implement.