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Shapeways achieves network reliability, scalability and availability with Cumulus Networks routing on the host



3D Printing Services & Online Marketplace

Business Objective

Reliable & scalable network


Penguin Computing, Puppet Labs


Founded in 2007, Shapeways is the leader in online 3D printing services, enabling users to print their personalized products. With over 2.5M products printed and 150,000 new designs being uploaded to their website monthly, Shapeways provides a marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of 3D printed objects. Further, the company provides a platform for over 620,000 community members to share ideas and gain access to technology.

Shapeways is an internet business hosted in data centers across multiple continents; the Shapeways community relies on their network to be available, reliable and operational.


The team at Shapeways had a data center refresh on the horizon, and wanted to deploy a network architecture that addressed their current business needs while future proofing their investment. Their objective was to adopt a reliable network topology that offers flexibility and enables rapid innovation, while simultaneously reducing cost and maximizing efficiency. The resulting network also needed to scale as the Shapeways business grows.

Shapeways’ business model depends on tight service level agreements (SLAs) with their customers and producers. The network has to be up and operational at all times, as content is continuously uploaded to the site. Thus, the team was focused on increasing the resiliency of the network while decreasing complexity and redefining the Data Center Interconnect (DCI) between data centers.

When inspiration strikes, the Shapeways community expects our 3D printing service and marketplace to be operational and accessible. Deploying Routing on the Host with Cumulus Quagga enabled us to design a complete layer 3 data center using BGP unnumbered. Eliminating layer 2 bridging is important for network reliability and ensures our production environment is ready to span a hybrid cloud.

Martín Beauchamp

Site Reliability Engineer at Shapeways


Layer 3 Clos topology with open networking and Routing on the Host

The resulting Shapeways network architecture is a layer 3 Clos topology across their multiple data centers. Built as a non-blocking multistage architecture, this network avoids congestion and is economical to scale. In conjunction with the Cumulus Linux network operating system, this new design offers:

  • Simplified network design
  • Reliable performance
  • Economical scalability

In order to achieve the resiliency and simplicity goals, Shapeways eliminated large layer 2 broadcast and failure domains, spanning tree (STP) challenges and proprietary protocols like MLAG. With their entire operating environment running Linux, they decided to deploy Cumulus Routing on the Host on their servers, bringing layer 3 functionality all the way down to the host.

The main criteria for selecting Cumulus Routing on the Host included:

  • Network reliability and availability: Running a layer 3 routing protocol on the hosts provided redundancy to the hosts without needing STP or MLAG. Additionally, Shapeways applied their newfound understanding of BGP to their DCI VPN links, resulting in improved throughput and resilience for those links.
  • Network simplicity: Routing on the Host offers complete subnet freedom and mobility. Enabling BGP unnumbered allowed the host to advertise its /32 IP address directly into the routing domain, which eliminated the host's need to be tied to the rack. BGP unnumbered also reduced the number of IP addresses that need to be configured and managed.

By utilizing Cumulus Linux on Penguin Computing Ethernet switches and Cumulus Routing on the Host on Ubuntu Linux on their hosts, Shapeways is able to deploy an end-to-end Linux environment in order to bring layer 3 benefits throughout their data centers.

Industry-standard protocols and solutions dramatically lower TCO

Cumulus Linux helps Shapeways leverage proven industry standards, such as BGP for their network topology protocol, and the Linux ecosystem, including Puppet for data center automation and DataDog for monitoring. As a result, Shapeways reduced total cost of ownership.

Shapeways realized an unforeseen benefit of this revamped network architecture. They recognized that portable applications need to eliminate their layer 2 feature dependencies so that they can be deployed in a hybrid cloud, private cloud or public cloud like AWS or Google Engine.

The Routing on the Host architecture enabled Shapeways to identify and eliminate unportable dependencies within their application stack that relied on layer 2 behaviors, further reducing TCO and increasing agility and reliability.


Shapeways worked with Cumulus Networks to build an agile, scalable and reliable network for their new data center deployments by leveraging Linux and L3 networking throughout the data center stack. The resulting system allows Shapeways to serve their demanding customers and partners both now and as their business continues to grow in the future.

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