Chapter 6

Linux: Unify the data center

Linux = equality and unification

Gartner has stated, "There's a template out there, and the template is the way the big web properties operate. They're using Linux-based automation tools — many of them open source. They're building workflows; it's automation by default."

At Cumulus, we remove the bottleneck traditional networks have caused, freeing up the ability to develop future applications that have yet to be invented. The network will no longer be the bottleneck to technology advancement. Linux levels the playing field by providing a standard infrastructure for all. By utilizing the dominant language in the data center, you can affordably build and efficiently operate your network like the world’s largest data center operators, unlocking vertical network stacks.

Workflow automation

Cumulus provides the ability to build “workflow” automations, instead of just device automations. Using the same Linux-based automation tools as servers means end-to-end orchestration is possible, where a new server can be deployed and all relevant network configuration is applied.

You can take a server and deploy it on the network using automation to provision that server. You can then use that same automation tool to provision your top of rack switch VLANs, provision the VNIs across the fabric and provision rules on a firewall.

This is end-to-end workflow automation, and it is unique to what Cumulus can offer because we are fully Linux. While other vendors may claim integrations with some of these automation tools like Ansible, Puppet, Chef and SaltStack, you have to rely on the vendor’s proprietary coded application for that integration to work. You can’t use anything Puppet or Ansible has ever created — you can only use the few things that the networking vendor has built for that integration to work. But because Cumulus is full Linux, you can use Ansible and all its automation capabilities, use Sensu for monitoring or use Telegraph for streaming telemetry because they are also built on Linux.

Operational intelligence

The efficiencies of Linux don’t stop at development. Linux brings operational intelligence and efficiencies unlike anything seen by proprietary vendors. As a result, Cumulus gives you predictable performance, bandwidth and operations for unmatched operational intelligence.

Benefits include:

A global community of engineers

When you go with a Linux operating system, you’re “standing on the shoulders of giants,” meaning that you don’t have to solely rely on your inhouse engineering team. Rather, you’re relying on thousands of engineers, including some of the absolute best in the business. Since Cumulus Linux runs on Linux, our customers have this community at their disposal.

We get bug fixes and security patches the same day as the community — no delay for us to modify code fixes for a “custom Linux” version like our competitors. With proprietary vendors, you may or may not know about a glitch, yet there is nothing you can do about the vulnerability because you can’t see the code! You are 100% dependent on your proprietary vendor knowing about the issue, detecting the cause of the issue, fixing the issue and then sending you a new package containing the fix. Who knows how long your network security is at stake?

With Cumulus Linux, you have the entire Linux community working on a fix. You might find out about this from a Linux forum, or maybe because you reviewed the code and saw a configuration issue. Or, perhaps someone from the Cumulus team has contacted you. Hundreds, maybe thousands of engineers are looking for a way to remediate the issue. Typically, within hours, the glitch has been found, diagnosed and patched. Cumulus sends you a quick script or package and everything goes back to normal. Quick, easy and painless.

Cumulus has built an entire library of information around Linux-based networking. This library contains all the resources you need to learn the power of Linux in networking and to expand your networking skill set, from Linux networking essentials and how-to-get-started guides to deep dive whitepapers, videos and ebooks. See how easy it is become Linux proficient.


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