Cumulus Linux 2.0 Updates Network Silicon Support

New bare metal network operating system now supports the Broadcom Trident II chipset.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Oct 29, 2013
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Cumulus Networks is out this with the the second major public iteration of its namesake Linux distribution that is purpose built as a bare metal network operating system.

Cumulus Networks emerged earlier this year with its first public release. The company's offering is built around the premise that a physical network switch and a network operating system can be two independent efforts. The goal is to further enable Software Defined Networking (SDN) and enable greater agility for network administrators.

The new Cumulus Linux 2.0 release shares a lot in common with the prior Cumulus Linux 1.5 release. Aurelie Fonteny, product manager at Cumulus Networks, explained that Cumulus Linux 2.0 is based on the same core version of Debian Linux as the prior version.

"We're using the same 3.2.46 Linux kernel version as for our Cumulus Linux 1.5 release, with some changes integrated for VXLAN, security updates and EbTables," Fonteny said.

The Linux 3.2 kernel first debuted in January of 2012 and lacks a key SDN feature that all later Linux kernels include: Open vSwitch. Linux 3.3 debuted in March of 2012 with Open vSwitch, considered by some vendors to be a core Software Defined Networking (SDN) component for virtual network enablement.

Though Cumulus does not directly integrate a Linux kernel that includes Open vSwitch, the new release does support other critical SDN overlay technologies.

"We support OVSDB (Open vSwitch Database Protocol) to integrate with the VMware NSX schema, and we integrate with VMware NSX for unified management of physical and virtual servers," Fonteny said.

She added that Cumulus is also bringing in support for an OpenStack Neutron ML2 plugin to ease network provisioning at Top of Rack access. The OpenStack Havana cloud platform's Neutron networking component now includes a Modular Layer 2 (ML2) component that enables heterogeneous VLAN deployment.

Broadcom Trident II

The big new item in Cumulus Linux 2.0 is support for the Broadcom StrataXGS Trident II chipset. The Trident II supports up to 2.56Tbps of I/O bandwidth and can enable a vendor with high port density switching devices.

Though future evolution of the Cumulus Linux platform is a given, it's not yet clear when the next release beyond version 2.0 will appear and what other features Cumulus is working on.

"We are planning regular major and minor feature releases but at this point, there is no further release to announce," Fonteny said.

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

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