Background on DCspine
Eurofiber is the leading provider of dark fiber DWDM services and Ethernet connectivity in the Netherlands and neighboring countries. Today, Eurofiber’s reach includes 7.4 Million households and 50% of all internet traffic, and it helps service 84% of data centers in the Netherlands.
In 2016, Eurofiber sought to further develop the data center interconnectivity (DCI) market, with the plan to base the offering upon network virtualization and software-defined networking capabilities. Over the next year, Eurofiber created a new, stand-alone company that was built around this concept of connecting multiple data centers. DCspine was born out of this initiative, with the focus on offering a fully automated, high capacity software-defined network datacenter interconnect platform.
Why Cumulus was selected
For this new service, DCspine required an open, flexible network. In order to be able to do this, a different approach compared to that of Eurofiber was needed given the fact that DCspine wanted to provide connectivity of a more ‘on-demand’ nature for a specific segment of the market. “With our new service, we had to change our standard processes in order to provide new and customized offerings,” says Jan Michiel Berkel, Director of DCspine. “We knew we had to configure an agile network, yet traditional vendor tools made it hard to make such a goal possible. Also, we wanted to work with a vendor that was innovative themselves.”
After surveying the market, DCspine selected Dell/EMC as the brightbox switch vendor and Cumulus Networks as the Linux-based operating system to manage the new network. “One of the foremost benefits to us of this disaggregation approach was that we didn’t have to worry about vendor lock-in,” says Jan Michiel. “This means we can develop other elements into our network that otherwise wouldn’t be supported if we had just one provider. It’s easy to be limited by vendors. But with Cumulus software, we feel like we have the ability to drive new innovations forward.”
DCspine began architecting an off-the-shelf datacenter connectivity service, which they could take to the broad market, and which enabled quick solutions for each customer. Their datacenter connectivity offering was built via Ethernet/VXLAN connections. DCspine pre-connects the networks and then sells the data center interconnect solutions as a cloud offering. Think of it as network-as-a-service.
“With DCspine, customers can manage all aspects of their account through an online portal, including monitoring the connection performance, and manage their connectivity right from our web site,” Jan Michiel says. “We are a front runner in this space around data center connectivity via software defined networking. We make datacenter connections orderable online and our customers can manage the connections and services themselves.” DCspine wrote their own automation application to push configurations from the web interface they provide to customers. This application was Linux-based, so it was a no brainer to go with a Linux networking solution from Cumulus.
Value to DCspine
DCspine went live with this service in October, 2017 to clients in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands, touting it as the “Virtual Meet Me Room” for all connected data centers. It’s all a pay-by-the-day offering. “Soon, we’ll be able to offer marketing elements through this portal,” Jan Michiel explains. “We know we must always find innovative ways to serve the needs of our customers as best as possible.”
The digitized economy requires industries to be smart and easy to use, which is why DCspine’s mantra is to make their service as easy to cross connect between datacenters as if it were within a single datacenter. Jan Michiel says that already, DCspine has connected over 30 data centers across the Netherlands, and they plan to add 5 to 10 new sites this year. DCspine can deliver up to 100GB per connection on their platform, and can scale up to 1.2TB.
“What’s amazing is that we built this entirely new data center interconnectivity platform, from scratch, in a just a year,” says Arjan Kunstman, Founder of DCspine. “We couldn’t do that with traditional vendors, but we were able to accomplish this with Cumulus.” Additionally, what’s been pleasing to DCspine is to see how Cumulus has been a partner to them in building a network for their needs.” Arjan Kunstman says, “We have direct contact with the Cumulus engineers and can give our direct input on the Cumulus feature development roadmap. We also like how we are invited to meetups to better learn the product, and we’ve even had the chance to visit Cumulus at their offices. They listen to our requests.”
With Cumulus, DCspine found a network that met their agile needs. The agility comes in two ways; firstly, the fact that the software is Linux based enables them to fully integrate it in their BSS, and secondly, the fact that Cumulus swiftly responds to DCspine requests and needs. And all that without creating a vendor lock-in. “We tested all the big networking vendors and tried to use them with our automated, online portal,” says Jan Michiel. “The most flexible networking offering on the market was Cumulus, and we love it. We now have an open networking model that will enable us to develop new innovations ahead of other competitors in this space.”