Chapter 4

Open: Unleash innovation

Open networking

TechTarget recently wrote that enterprises should stop following suppliers and invest in the tools used by web-scale data center operators like Facebook, Google and Microsoft. They state that “the problem with Arista, Cisco, Juniper Networks and other established networking vendors is they focus on innovating proprietary products, rather than educating customers on open source network automation applications that would save time and money.”

From the beginning, Cumulus has been the pioneer of open networking. We believe openness and standardization are the keys to unleash innovation in networking during this age of digital disruption. Open networking based on an open operating system leverages the rapid technology improvement cycles of merchant silicon, an expanding set of bare metal switching hardware providers, the growing ecosystem of commercial and open source Linux tools and applications, and diverse routes to market globally in order to fit customers’ purchasing behaviors. In the following paragraphs, we’ll detail how Cumulus Networks is dedicated to the open networking movement.

Open fabric

Within the VXLAN/EVPN community, there have been multiple ways to do VXLAN routing by either utilizing asymmetric or symmetric routing. Cisco and Arista support symmetric, and Juniper supports asymmetric. With these different routing solutions, these vendor switches can’t operate with each other. While other vendors mainly only offer one VXLAN mode or the other, Cumulus focuses on choice. We offer full interoperability with all major networking vendor gear by supporting both symmetric and asymmetric routing methods.

Open source

Several Cumulus innovations have been submitted to the open source community. For starters, we created ONIE, the defacto standard for installing software on whitebox switches, and contributed it to the Open Compute Project. ONIE is an open source initiative led by Cumulus and driven by a community of new generation networking leaders with the common goal of defining an open “install environment” for bare metal network switches.

We also created VRF for Linux here at Cumulus. We contributed VRF to the Linux kernel and it is now part of the Linux ecosystem, and you can install VRFs on Linux onto your servers just as you would your switches.

As mentioned earlier, we created and contributed FRR (Free Range Routing), which is the ability to streamline the routing protocol stack and to make engineers’ lives that much easier, to the open source Linux community.


OpenStack has rapidly become the standard for both service providers and enterprises looking to build a private cloud environment. One of the drivers of this adoption has been the ability to leverage open software solutions and white boxed, industry-standard hardware. Traditionally, a challenge for companies looking to take advantage of the OpenStack solution had been the networking component. Due to traditional networking vendors using proprietary vendor-specific software, OpenStack clusters were only as flexible as the Top of Rack (ToR) switch. Cumulus Networks’ native Linux network operating system (NOS) makes it easy and economical to deploy, configure and manage because the entire stack now runs Linux. The networking and compute components are “speaking the same language” without complex compute APIs or networking CLIs. You can learn more about Cumulus and OpenStack in our solution center.

We provide classic integration with Openstack Neutron ML2 driver for VLAN provisioning, and support for hardware VTEP for VLAN to VXLAN capabilities.

We also have a unique solution with Cumulus NetQ allowing for BGP to the server. This enables a server to leverage eBGP unnumbered for a simple, uniform configuration end-to-end, with Neutron programming VXLAN tunnels directly on the servers.

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