Chapter 5

Untethered: Unlock choice

Vertically stacked networking has thwarted innovation for too long. By decoupling hardware from software, organizations will reap the benefits of disaggregation.

Freedom of choice

Historically, network devices have been fully tethered, turnkey appliances that included a combination of hardware, software and an operating system from a single vendor. By separating hardware and software, you get to choose how to run your business.

At Cumulus, our focus is to provide you choice of hardware, silicon, cabling, architecture, optics, protocols and so on. The focus on separating hardware from the software means you get to choose how to run your business. Do you want to buy your bare metal from Vendor A because you have that relationship, or Vendor B because of better pricing/product? You can buy decoupled and then combine the software and hardware yourself. Or, you can also buy a turnkey solution from Cumulus, known as Cumulus Express, because you want the simplicity of having it all come together, but want the openness and the benefits of the Linux language in the data center.

As proof of this focus on giving our customers choice, our open operating system, Cumulus Linux, is supported on over 70 hardware platforms, including Dell, HP, Edgecore, Mellanox, Delta, Facebook, QCT, Supermicro or Penguin. That’s nearly 40 more options than our nearest competitor — and that number will continue to grow.

Rapid adoption of new technology

Today, much of the innovation and differentiation in the market is being driven by software. With the demands of digital business and the fact that much of networking innovation is happening in software, refresh cycles need to occur every 10 to 20 months, not five to 10 years. This means that, even if a competing vendor introduces a valuable innovation, the enterprise can't adopt it until it refreshes its hardware, often years into the future. Favoring vendors that enable third-party software to run on their hardware gives you the opportunity to introduce valuable third-party innovations without having to wait for a five-year hardware refresh cycle.

Cost efficiency

The vertical stack of old has been blown away. With disaggregation, you have the choice to find a lower total price point for your data center. Cumulus running on bare metal switches can reduce networking CapEx costs by 45% and OpEx costs by up to 75%!

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