A New Era for Open Networking with Dell and Cumulus Networks

Cumulus Networks graphicToday, I am excited to demonstrate our support for open networking by becoming the first global end-to-end technology company to provide customers including cloud providers and Web 2.0 companies a choice of third-party operating systems, tailoring networks for their specific application needs. In this effort, we have reached a re-seller agreement with Cumulus Networks – maker of the first Linux operating system for bare-metal networking devices – to support a new disaggregated networking model for its fixed-configuration switches.

Our vision of the new data center networking model is an open ecosystem in which customers can choose among various industry-standard networking gear, network applications and network operating systems to meet their business needs. New dynamics in the networking world helped us to pioneer an Ethernet fabric model using form-fixed switches. Ethernet fabric is best positioned to address the demands of simplifying and automating physical switch networks encountered by network professionals in the immediate future1. In addition, the newer smaller form factor core devices can enable network managers to reduce capital costs significantly and save on operating expenses compared with chassis-based switches2.

This disaggregated networking model, is not only an innovation in hardware, but in software as well. The disaggregated networking model allows for consistent computing and networking with a common deployment and operation model. In addition, you are able to leverage open source data center solutions with rapid standards-based innovation. This is a great example of innovation coming from the new Dell. Networking is an industry crying out for disruption. We’ve done this before with PCs and servers, putting us in the best position to offer a choice of network operating systems.

In partnership with Cumulus Networks, we will be able to support a new disaggregated networking model for fixed-configuration switches. Dell will begin offering Cumulus® Linux® network OS as an option in addition to Dell OS for Dell Networking S6000 and S4810 top-of-rack switches. Customers will now experience high-capacity fabrics with unprecedented price-performance while seeing rapid innovation. In addition, Dell and Cumulus provide consistent tools for networking and computing with simplified network automation and flexible solutions. These solutions are also affordable. Through this open networking approach, customers will see lower operation and capital expenditures while simultaneously breaking free from vendor lock-in by joining a large ecosystem of Linus applications.

“Dell is fundamentally changing the nature of the networking business, and this partnership with Cumulus Networks represents a definitive step towards disaggregating hardware and software,” said JR Rivers, co-founder and CEO of Cumulus Networks. “In this new open, multi-vendor ecosystem that’s becoming all the more prevalent, the customer finally gets to choose exactly the components they need to build the software-defined datacenter of the future without having to worry about vendor lock-in.”

We are excited to be a pioneer as we enter a new era for networking. I often say Networks are like human minds – they work better when open. And that’s just what we are encouraging here at Dell. Let us know how open your networks are by following us on Twitter or checking us out at DellNetworking.com.

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1 Gartner, Inc., “Emergence of Ethernet Fabric Will Push Users to Rethink Their Data Center Physical Switch Networks” by Evan Zeng and Naresh Singh, October 2013.

2 Gartner, Inc., “Right Sizing the Enterprise Data Center Network” by Mark Fabbi and Caio Misticone, March 2013.

About the Author: Tom Burns