Category Archives for "Cumulus Networks Blog"

Announcement: Cumulus recognized by both our employees & customers

It’s not every day you get recognized. But to get recognized TWICE in one day? Now that’s a rare experience. We’re thrilled to announce that Cumulus Networks has been recognized with both the FORTUNE 2018 50 Best Small and 100 Medium Size Companies to Work For award, as well as  Gartner Customers’ Choice for Data Center Networking.

With recognition like this, we’re taking time to celebrate and appreciate the awesome and talented people we get to work with every day.

Cumulus awarded as a FORTUNE 2018 50 Best Small and 100 Medium Size Companies to Work For

The Fortune award is one of the most prestigious and for good reason — Their rigorous methodology focuses on more than just benefits and office snacks. According to their 2017 methodology statement:

All employees were invited to participate in the survey, which is designed to reveal whether the organization is consistently a great place to work for all its people. Meaning: Do employees trust the people they work for? Are they treated fairly and with respect? Are people proud of their work? Do they enjoy the folks they work with? Are great experiences available to everyone – or does it Continue reading

Comparing Upgrade Strategies with Cumulus Linux

You’ve been running your Cumulus Linux network for a while, and everything has been running perfectly. Cumulus Linux has sliced your bread, you’ve gotten a promotion because your boss can’t believe how successful the project was, and the cost savings being felt by the organization. Your company has even been able to fire the accountant because Cumulus Linux has surprisingly also done your taxes for the coming year, and in general everything is going swimmingly with your open networking.

So what now, is our story over? Well not exactly, enterprise networks have long lifespans. Hyperscalers typically operate on a refresh cycle of 3-5 years. For them, anything over 3/yrs old is considered tech debt. Anything over 5/yrs old is considered a critical fault point. Your typical enterprise network may be around even longer than that. It is very common in this timespan for the needs of the applications to change requiring the network to change too. This often requires support for newer features at some point in the lifecycle of the equipment.

While the scenario above is quite rosey, (Hey – this is our blog after all!) the reasons for wanting to upgrade are many and varied. New features, Continue reading

Open Switch Hardware’s Journey into the Linux and Kernel Community

You have read, heard and seen us talk about the benefits of Linux, open source and community. Here, here, and here… and I am pretty sure everywhere. This blog walks you through our journey of pushing Linux open switch ASICs into the Linux kernel and ecosystem. Before we begin, let me tell you that it has and continues to be a fun ride!


A quick historical recap on Linux networking

The Linux kernel has been doing network hardware offloads and acceleration for decades (Nics, smart-nics, wireless AP’s and many other places). Because of this, the kernel has had the infrastructure and the right abstractions to recognize and register a networking hardware device for decades. And this infrastructure has matured over time.

For hardware vendors, enabling their networking hardware for Linux just made it easier to take their hardware to new customers, objectives and industries. Today Linux enablement is the best way to get faster adoption of your hardware or faster marketing for your hardware. It has become a norm for hardware vendors to get their hardware ready for Linux first: getting their drivers in the upstream kernel and getting hardware tools ready for the Linux ecosystem.

Continue reading

Salt Use Cases for Cumulus Linux

A talking point I often lean on when speaking to customers is, “It’s Linux, so use whatever tool you like.” This approach can be especially paralyzing for customers that are just getting started with automating their network and compute infrastructure in a uniform way. In those particular situations, diving into the numerous articles that pit the various automation tools against each other can be counterproductive. Instead, I often find the most value in looking at a few examples of a particular tool in action that is addressing a use case which is relevant to me, while following along hands-on.

Salt frequently comes up as one of the options in the infrastructure configuration management conversation, however its main differentiator is the message bus architecture and the ability to react to events in real time. While that sounds a bit abstract, the main question we should be asking ourselves is how will this simplify the day to day management of my infrastructure? In this post, we’ll step through getting the configuration on a couple Cumulus switches under full management with Salt, and end with a practical event-based workflow for adding and replacing devices in our infrastructure.

Configuration Management

In a previous Continue reading

Kernel of Truth episode 8: Network agility

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Click here for our previous episode.

On this week’s Kernel of Truth episode, we’re breaking down network agility and why it’s important to you. The networking world loves a good acronym, but have no fear, this episode will also begin to unscramble the alphabet soup that comes with the technology. For this episode we brought in Attilla de Groot and Scott Edwards to discuss why agile networks are changing the tech world, how we got here, and what’s next.

If you’re interested in learning about the virtualization of IT, new innovations, and how that’s helping computing power become greater and faster than ever, this episode is for you. We discuss how Cumulus is making design methods and network architecture that’s easier for our customers to use and how we’re working to design a simpler, more freeing approach to networking and much more. So grab your headphones and sit back for 25 minutes of networking goodness!


Guest Bios

Attilla de Groot: Cumulus Networks; Attilla has spent the last 15 years at the cutting edge of Continue reading

A minimalist approach to network architecture

Minimalism, as a current concept, is not just about owning fewer things, or eliminating distractions, or consuming only specific coffees sold in unlabeled packaging at chairless coffee shops. Minimalism is a philosophical force and practical approach to life, that when applied correctly, can bring peace, happiness, and enrichment to your way of living. How do these core virtues of minimalism apply to network design? Read on. (And don’t worry, you can keep all of your stuff, your color TV and cell phones, and your roomy house, too – we’re just talking about networks here.)

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who founded, sacrificed their former careers to share the concept of minimalism all over the globe, helping more than 20 million people live more meaningful lives. They’ve grounded the concepts of minimalism into a practical and elegant foundation that fits nicely in a modern society. They defined what many believe to be the core virtues of minimalism, ideas to internalize on your journey through life. When it comes to network design, here are five core virtues that prove to be incredibly valuable:

• Reclaim your time
• Create more, consume less
• Contribute beyond yourself
• Experience Continue reading

EVPN on the host for multi-tenancy

As an SE at Cumulus, I’m involved in designing and implementing data center networks for MSPs and enterprises. While doing so, I have to be aware of how Cumulus can integrate our solution with solutions from multiple other vendors depending on the solution that is needed. While I’m not a software engineer or protocol developer myself, I’m interested in deploying these solutions in real world environments. Cumulus Linux is a standard Linux environment, and as a company, we use and develop on open-source tools and solutions. In this blog, I would like to address a common requirement in data center networks: multi tenancy, and how this can be achieved in the Linux ecosystem, open-source software and various other tools, specifically with EVPN on the host.

Multi tenancy use-cases

There are two major ones that are often deployed:

• Virtual machines
• Container environments

Virtual machines in the Linux ecosystem are mostly KVM deployments and in many cases deployed in combination with Openstack. There are different multi tenant architectures, but the most common one is to build an overlay network with VXLAN between the hypervisors. To reach resources outside the specific tenant environment, dedicated network nodes are being used.


While this architecture is Continue reading

Cumulus content roundup: September

Who’s ready for another Cumulus content roundup? This month we kept busy with step-by-step guides, tips and tricks, and even kicked off a new series, Tales from the field! Grab a seat and settle in to learn more about everything from EVPN to ZTP, and how they benefit you. Happy reading!

From Cumulus Networks:

We stand with open source: We’ve come a long way from where we began as a company. Find out why we’re passionate about open source networking, what we’ve brought to the table in the last couple of years, and our goals for the future.

5 tips for transitioning to 100G networking: Are you ready to increase your networking speed and pack more computing into the same space? You’re going to want to read these 5 tips on making the transition to 100G networking as smooth as possible.

EVPN behind the curtains: Confused about EVPN? Read this blog post for a step-by-step understanding of EVPN and what it means to you.

Tales from the field: Best practices for initial provisioning (Part 1): Let’s dive into ZTP! Read part one of “Tales from the field,” a series, and find out how to use automation tools to Continue reading

Network automation helps more than just network admins

Systems administrators are the heart of any IT team. Since IT is arguably what keeps most modern organizations operating, then in some ways sysadmins are the heart of modern organizations. Of course network automation can make the lives of network engineers easier, but it can also benefit enterprises as a whole. Yet here’s an interesting quandary: does network automation even benefit systems administrators?

Sysadmins shepherd hardware, virtualization platforms, Operating System Environments (OSEs), and more.  They must master multiple disciplines within IT, and are under the constant pressure to learn even more. The life of a systems administrator is one of trying to carefully balance the solving of immediate problems while investing with their future via automation to prevent these problems from recurring, additionally with lifelong learning.

As a profession, systems administration has been cyclical. In one part of the cycle the generalist sysadmin is championed. In the next, specialization is all the rage.  The past decade has seen the generalist brought once more to the fore, as specialties such as “storage administrator” are automated away by clever software.

However, throughout the decades the physical networks have largely remained the jurisdiction of dedicated network administrators.  If the networks belong to Continue reading

Kernel of Truth episode 7: data center networking in APAC and EMEA

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Click here for our previous episode.

We wanted to give this podcast a bit of international flair, so we invited some overseas guests into the recording booth. I’m joined by Attilla de Groot (Sales Engineer for EMEA) and Sutharsan Sivapalan (Sales Engineer for APAC), who filled me in on the networking customers, trends and challenges that are cropping up in their respective regions. There are definitely differences between these two ends of the world, but you’d be surprised how much these regions have in common despite the distance.

Tweet any questions, feedback or topics you want us to discuss at @cumulusnetworks and use the hashtag #KernelOfTruth — let us know if you like what you’re hearing!

Guest bios

Sutharsan Sivapalan: CCIE #40322 (Data Center), is a Senior Systems Engineer covering the US West and Asia-Pacific regions for Cumulus Networks. Prior to joining Cumulus, Sutharsan spent 6 years at Cisco designing and troubleshooting some of the most complex networks in the world, as a member of their Technical Services organisation. In that role, he supported the entire Data Centre portfolio, including UCS, the Nexus Continue reading

EVPN behind the curtains

Is EVPN magic? Well, like Arthur C Clarke said, any considerable leap in technology is indistinguishable from magic. On that premise, moving from a traditional layer 2 environment to VXLAN driven by EVPN has much of that same hocus pocus feeling. To help demystify the sorcery, this blog aims to help users new to EVPN create some step-by-step understanding of how EVPN works and how the control plane converges. In this blog post, we’ll focus on basic layer 2 (L2) building blocks then work our way up to layer 3 (L3) connectivity and the control plane.

We’ll be using the “reference topology” as our cable plan and foundation to build our understanding of the traffic flow. Our infrastructure will try to demystify a symmetric mode EVPN environment using distributed gateways. All the configurations are defined in this github repo. 

If you’d like to follow along as we go, feel free to launch your own CITC blank slate and deploy the above playbook:

EVPN message types

Like any good protocol, EVPN has a robust process for exchanging information with its peers. In EVPN this process uses message types. If you already know OSPF and the LSA messages you can Continue reading

Step-by-step instructions for DHCP configuration on Windows


Here at Cumulus, we try to offer a lot of different tutorials for engineers to learn basic open networking commands and configurations, all the way up to advanced configurations (our how-to videos are a great example). But sometimes I find that there are some critical configurations where your desktop OS is a major player in how you configure. So for that reason, this blog post we will configure ONIE and Cumulus ZTP (Zero-Touch Provisioning) IPv4 DHCP Options on a Windows 2016 Server (this should also work with Windows 2012). I’ve broken this up into simple step-by-step instructions so it’s easy to follow. 

The first thing we will do is create the options needed for Cumulus Linux.

1. To begin, right click on IPv4 and select “Set Predefined Options…” 

2. Next, click the “Add” button:

Fill in the Option Type dialog box with the following:

Name: “default-url”

Data type: String

Code: “114”

Description: “Cumulus Binary Install”

Next, click “OK”

3. Clicking on the “OK” button will present you with the following dialog box that will require a String Value:

The “String Value” is the URL towards a binary image of Cumulus Linux.

4. Repeat “Step #2” in order to Continue reading

Kernel of Truth: Optical networking

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Click here for our previous episode.

Let’s talk about lasers! In this episode of Kernel of Truth, I asked Product Manager Brian O’Sullivan (who you’ll remember from our episode about automation) and Principal Engineer Scott Emery to join me in the recording booth and chat about optical networking. We’ll get into topics like forward error correction, the divide between data center networking engineers and optical networking engineers, Voyager and Pink Floyd. Who knew that progressive rock had anything to do with optical networking?? (It doesn’t, really, but we somehow worked it in.)

So tune in and learn why an open packet optical platform is so innovative for optical networking and telco! And make sure to subscribe to the Kernel of Truth podcast so you stay up to date on the open networking revolution — get with the future of networking so you’re not just “Another Brick in the Wall!”

Tweet any questions, feedback or topics you want us to discuss at @cumulusnetworks and use the hashtag #KernelOfTruth — let us know if you like what you’re hearing!

Guest bios

Brian O’Sullivan: Brian Continue reading

Taking EVPN & open networking to new heights with Broadcom Trident3 and Cumulus Linux

As highlighted in our recent press release, Cumulus Networks and Broadcom are expanding their commitment to open networking by introducing support of Cumulus Linux to the widely successful Broadcom Trident3  The Trident3-based switches will be available with Cumulus Linux in the Fall of 2018.

When Trident3 came to the market it offered a fully programming packet processing silicon as well as improved power efficiency. It’s additional benefit was a broad range of scalability, starting at 200 Gbps of throughput scaling all the way up to 3.2 Tbps on a single chip.

We are thrilled to have the world’s most powerful open network operating system, Cumulus Linux, now running on this innovative Broadcom chip. I see three benefits of utilizing these two solutions in data center networking 1) Simplified EVPN, 2) Scalable VXLAN, and 3) investment protection.

  1. Simplified EVPN operations

    With the Cumulus and Trident3 EVPN implementation, teams can utilize well-understood and simple networking protocols like BGP to effortlessly build a highly scalable, layer-3-routed, underlay fabric for different address families, including IPv4, IPv6 and EVPN routes. EVPN will automatically set up neighbors, discover information, and exchange that information among nodes. With just a few lines of code, you can Continue reading

Kernel of Truth episode 5.5 — Greg Farro talks Voyager

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Click here for our previous episode.

If you enjoyed our previous episode about hyper-converged infrastructure, then you’re in for a real treat — the infamous Greg Ferro of Packet Pushers is back for a special BONUS episode of Kernel of Truth! We learned that once you get Greg and JR talking, it’s nearly impossible to get them to stop. So, we let them keep going and recorded an extra episode all about Voyager. Greg’s got questions about our open packet optical platform, and JR’s got answers. You’ll be impressed with how much awesome info and discussion they can fit into a mini episode!

Like what you’re hearing and want to talk about it with fellow Kernel of Truth fans? Good news! We’ve got a new Cumulus community forum for the podcast where you can chat with other podcast and networking aficionados. Be sure to check it out!

As always, you can tweet any questions, feedback or topics you want us to discuss at @cumulusnetworks and use the hashtag #KernelOfTruth — we want to hear from you, and give you content that you want to Continue reading

Tales from the field: Best practices for initial provisioning (Part 1)

Working with the Cumulus Professional Services team, we get the privilege of seeing how many folks use and operationalize Cumulus Linux. Over time, we’ve learned many lessons and best practices that can benefit others who are getting started on the journey. It’s for that reason that we’re putting virtual pen to virtual paper and writing this post. This article is the first in a series of two that will discuss how to use Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) and automation tools together for maximum efficiency in your initial provisioning. This post is going to focus on ZTP while the next will focus on automation tooling.

Cumulus Linux: Batteries included

Let’s recap — what comes configured with Cumulus out of the box?

  • 2 user accounts (cumulus and root, but only cumulus supports login via a default password
  • Some COntrol Plane Policing (COPP) rules that limit lots of different types of control traffic
  • SSHv2 enabled by default
  • NTP enabled by default

You’ll notice here that we’ve said nothing about interface configuration. Like all network switches and routers we start with a pretty blank slate from an interface configuration perspective. We leverage ZTP to give us some initial configuration for the node to use Continue reading

Network disaggregation facilitates datacenter and IT modernization [Whitepaper]

We recently partnered with DellEMC to bring you a new IDC whitepaper focused on one of the most critical and relevant considerations for today’s data center leaders and operators. In How Network Disaggregation Facilitates Datacenter and IT Modernization, IDC discusses how digital transformation and the prioritization and modernization of applications are putting pressure on business infrastructure, specifically the network, to modernize and optimize for the digital era.

In brief, the IT world has changed rapidly around the network, demanding automation, scalability and agility. But the network has remained unchanged — monolithic, stagnant and inflexible. The implications for businesses now are not just technological support but economical as well. An inflexible network becomes expensive to scale at the speed of customer expectations and business innovation. Business innovation puts pressure on data centers to offer extensive automation of the entire network life cycle, from provisioning and deployment to day-to-day management and upgrades.

With IT transformation initiatives taking place everywhere to support application needs, the time is now to leverage those initiatives to reassess network architectures and operational models. Network disaggregation is a key architectural step forward to help organizations meet these challenges by offering unprecedented flexibility and agility to support end-to-end Continue reading

Cumulus customer highlight

Behind each Cumulus customer is an awesome story about the future of open networking. These companies are forward thinkers who know that web-scale is the best solution for their network — enabling flexibility, reducing TCO, increasing efficiency — but it’s more than just our innovation. When we begin working with our customers, we get to see what innovations they’re driving, and recognize how we now fit into their story. We wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our newer case studies that have been published and highlight the awesome work that these organizations have accomplished.

iNNOVO Cloud
iNNOVO Cloud truly blew us away with one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world. They decided to run everything as an L3/IP fabric and not have large layer 2 domains (music to our ears). Partnering with OpenStack and Kubernetes, iNNOVO built an environment that brings efficiency and scale to their cloud and blockchain services. In fact, they reduced the time to configure switches by 83%. How’s that for increased efficiency? The best part is that their data center is all about sustainability and they’ve gone above and beyond your average infrastructure. Here’s a hint: think shipping Continue reading

Kernel of Truth episode 5 — HCI, agility and the physical network

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Click here for our previous episode.

If you’ve been waiting for a tech-heavy deep dive, then you’re in luck. In this episode we’re getting REAL nerdy — so we decided to bring out the big guns and invite two of the industry’s biggest networking geeks to discuss hyper-converged infrastructure. Naturally, we got our fearless co-founder and CTO JR Rivers into the recording booth so he could share his wisdom (and crack a few jokes, as usual).

And who did we invite to go toe-to-toe with JR on networking knowledge? None other than the one and only Greg Ferro, co-founder of Packet Pushers! We couldn’t be more excited that Greg agreed to join us in the recording booth and share his industry insights.

So, what data center networking topic did we decide was meaty enough for these guys to chew on? Because Greg and JR are all about looking toward the future and analyzing what they see coming up on the horizon, this episode is dedicated to hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). How is HCI changing the way we look at network architecture? We’ll discuss these topics Continue reading

Can your network handle digital transformation?

Digital transformation means different things to different organizations. Perhaps it means shifting workloads to the cloud, digging deeper into data analytics, giving your employees more options for mobility or automating more processes. But one thing’s for sure: no matter what your digital transformation strategy looks like, your network is going to be either the hero or a hindrance to your digital transformation efforts.

According to Gartner, “the top networking challenge… is improving agility.” Not a big surprise there. But what is surprising is Gartner’s advice to “shift investments away from premium networking products toward [your] existing network personnel.” That’s right: the answer to improving your network’s speed and agility is not by buying expensive, proprietary monster switches and premium automation solutions. Rather, it’s by letting the people who best know your network decide the best way to make your network more agile.

Agile networks require a deep understanding of your organizational objectives. A “one size fits all” approach to networking just doesn’t work anymore. In order to prepare your network for digital transformation, it has to be both customized to fit your organization’s needs and be flexible enough to adapt when those needs change. Agility requires responsive, Continue reading

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