William Choe

Author Archives: William Choe

Fast & Furious with Mellanox

“Your data center is so cool!”  

That’s the common reaction to web-IT data center networks architected for data-intensive workloads and unprecedented agility. Clos designs optimized for east-west traffic flows and standard layer 3 protocols with ECMP have replaced brittle 3-tier Cisco-style layer 2 networks.  DevOps with a true Linux network operating system (AKA “NetDevOps”) enables secure, reliable configuration management and automated lifecycle management while converging on a common set of tools and processes across compute, storage, and networking. What’s really cool is the high speed interconnects in fat tree network designs.

10G and 40G leaf/spine networks were the standards last year. This year, 25G connected hosts and 100G spines are emerging as the desired interconnect, aligned with the latest Xeon-based servers with Broadwell cores. With the 25/50/100G inflection, many new merchant silicon entrants have hit the market, and Cisco announced proprietary ASICs for the Nexus 9200/9300 with availability at the end of the year. But, why wait?  25/50/100G Spectrum-based switches from Mellanox with Cumulus Linux are available now.    

The joint Mellanox Spectrum and Cumulus Linux solution enables an open platform, unlocked performance, and unleashed innovation. Cumulus Linux is based on an open framework enabling customers of all Continue reading

Juniper’s Second Run up the Open Networking Mountain

Juniper’s announcement last week that it was launching Junos Software Disaggregation reflects a customer drive towards separating networking software and hardware, one that it was first evident Juniper was listening to with its OCX1100 announcement in early 2015. While the OCX announcement introduced this as a possibility, Juniper’s latest announcement ups the game, pointing out that customers are requiring the ability to procure networking hardware from sources other than Juniper.

Gartner agrees. In their recent report (Brite-Box and SDN Are Driving Innovation and Data Center Network Savings, 2015), the disaggregation benefits were highlighted as “enterprises to standardize network operations”, where organizations can “achieve life cycle savings of 25% to 50%”.

Cumulus Networks kick started this revolution in partnership with industry leading brite-box providers such as Dell, HP, and Quanta, with over 2 million ports in production. So while we are excited to have Juniper join the Open Networking revolution, a closer look suggests this could be another half-hearted attempt.

Based on the launch references, here are a few questions to ask your Juniper rep:

  1. Juniper says its disaggregated Junos software can run on “Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) compliant third-party switches.” Without a third party Continue reading

The Growing Open Networking Ecosystem

What a difference a couple of years can make. Two years ago, Cumulus Networks was a startup just coming out of stealth mode, and the open networking movement was a mere twinkle in our eyes. Since then, an ecosystem has arisen around open networking that offers customers choice not only in the networking hardware and software they run, but also in how they procure it. Now, companies of all sizes — from small shops with an IT team to the world’s largest cloud providers — are able to reap the benefits of open networking in the way that works best for them.

The expanding open networking ecosystem

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While some customers choose Cumulus Linux when shopping for a network solution, many of our customers first experience open networking as part of a broader procurement strategy. Increasingly, open networking is part of next-generation architectures designed to deliver IT as a pool of unified resources that can be managed holistically — what some people call the software-defined data center. With a growing network of partners — ranging from resellers to integrators to OEMs — customers can buy open networking from an IT provider that they know and trust.

Here are a few common Continue reading

What Do Spinal Tap and OpenStack Have in Common?

They both go to 11!



Kilo is the eleventh major OpenStack release, with enhancements across the board and new features like Ironic for bare metal service provisioning. SMB to large-scale clouds with OpenStack are being deployed in droves with a self-service portal to spin up virtual and now bare metal workloads while automatically provisioning all the requisite compute, storage and networking resources.  Yet, network service provisioning remains to be cumbersome, brittle and closed.

OpenStack and Cumulus Linux share a common philosophy, design and operational framework. Compute and storage (with Cinder and Swift) leverage standard infrastructure, so why use black boxes from Cisco and Arista, especially when the systems are merchant silicon reference designs. Cumulus Linux is unencumbered Linux without proprietary APIs and protocols, with the flexibility to run on your platform of choice.  Build and runtime operations are identical from bootstrapping infrastructure with PXE or ONIE to lifecycle management with config management and patching. Clouds have become the new frontier not only for orchestration platforms like OpenStack but for tools, processes and organizations. Converged administration with battle-tested automation platforms (such as Puppet, Chef or Ansible) or monitoring (with Nagios or collectd) enable admins to rise to critical tasks such Continue reading

Bringing Enterprise Class Automation to Open Networking

Today Puppet Labs announced that Cumulus Networks has joined its Puppet Supported Program. We’re very excited about this and, if you’re implementing a software-defined data center, you should be excited too.

Is it finally possible to manage the data center instead of just managing stacks?

Because Cumulus Linux is Linux, our customers are able to use the same tools they know and love for managing Linux servers to manage their networks. The joint integration work we’ve done means it’s easier than ever for anyone that wants to automate their data center to extend their change management procedures across both servers and switches, unifying data center and network infrastructure under a single dashboard.

Beyond the streamlining of management consoles, this integration brings a host of business benefits to any organization. For example:

  • Businesses can more quickly deploy applications with integrated, end-to-end application deployment from provisioning the VM to the full-stack (see the diagram below)
  • Unified management and automation significantly reduces human error, meaning more uptime for services and applications
  • Support for multiple Puppet masters across dev, test and production assures full visibility of change management
  • Integration gives networking teams the ability to contribute to the Puppet code that manages infrastructure configuration

Continue reading

Bare Metal Networking, Then and Now…

What a difference a year makes.

Just last year, bare metal networking was viewed as an aspiration for only mega-scale operators. A simple solution to enable any bare metal switch to operate any networking operating system was unavailable.

Original design manufacturers (ODMs) and bare metal networking vendors were relatively unknown entities. Pricing and product availability was obscure or difficult to ascertain. The supply chain for bare metal networking was non-existent. (You can read more about The Modern Networking Supply Chain and the Death of the Multiplier Effect.) Consequently, mega-scale operators deployed solutions, procured directly from ODMs in lots of hundreds to thousands.

Today, bare metal networking is available to the mass market around the world.

The Open Network Install Environment, ONIE, is a fundamental enabler to bare metal networking. ONIE is an Open Compute Project (OCP, pioneered by Facebook) initiative facilitating any network operating system to be installed (or removed) on any ONIE-based switch. Bare metal networking vendors have adopted ONIE en masse, simplifying operations for distributors and resellers with a minimum number of hardware SKUs, in parallel, making the simplified supply chain available to a range of software suppliers. Today, there are approximately 20 ONIE-based platforms in flexible Continue reading