Cumulus Networks Grows Hardware Footprint

Cumulus Linux is now available on Facebook's Backpack switch as well as new branded Cumulus hardware.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 24, 2017
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Cumulus Networks is expanding its Cumulus Linux network operating system software with new hardware options.

The Cumulus Express is the first hardware appliance from Cumulus Networks. It is a top-of-rack switch that is available in five different configurations. At the entry level is the CX-1048-T-F-B 48-port 1GbE switch. From there, the CX-4048 provides 48-ports of 10 GbE and the CX-6032 is a 32-port 40 GbE switch.

At the top end of the Cumulus Express hardware portfolio is the CX-8032 32-port 100 GbE switch that is powered by a Broadcom Tomahawk processor and an Intel CPU. Cumulus Networks is not manufacturing any of the switches itself.

"With Cumulus Express, we are reselling switch hardware from partners – initially, Edgecore," Josh Leslie, CEO of Cumulus Networks, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.

Leslie added that companies are able to purchase Cumulus Express from Cumulus' network of authorized channel partners.

Cumulus Linux is now also supported on the Facebook Backpack open hardware platform. Backback can provide up to 128 ports of 100 GbE in an 8 rack unit (RU) appliance.

"Celestica will manufacture the Backpack chassis and ship with Cumulus Linux pre-loaded through our authorized channel partners," Leslie said. "As with all of our hardware platforms, our business model is primarily based on a perpetual license that is available with the Facebook switch.

The promise of open networking gear is that it is not tethered to a pre-loaded operating system. A core element of all open networking equipment is the Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) that enables organizations to install the operating system of their chose on a given piece of hardware. That said, there is still a benefit to having Cumulus Linux available as a pre-installed option on the Backpack switch.

Leslie explained that fixed form-factor and chassis networking switches are based on ONIE, but a chassis is quite different from fixed-configuration systems.

"In addition to install and boot-up, there is work to preserve the Linux operating model on a chassis system and to ensure hardware acceleration and other elements on the new system, among other things," Leslie said. "That's why it is more complicated to install Cumulus Linux on a modular platform.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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