Cumulus Networks Submits APD Spec to OCP

Newly submitted to the Open Compute Project, Cumulus Networks specification could enable better operating system integration with bare metal switches.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Mar 12, 2015
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Cumulus Networks this week submitted the ACPI Platform Description (APD) to the Open Compute Project as a new specification to help further enable the evolving world of open network switches.

The Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) is a standard that already is in place on servers to integrate with operating systems. The APD effort aims to expand ACPI to bare metal switches, though it's not a specification likely to generate impacts noticeable by the end user.

"Since bare metal switching hardware/OS integration is done by the hardware vendor and OS provider, the process isn’t directly visible to a network admin or data center operator," Beth Carlton, Marketing Director at Cumulus Networks, told Enterprise Networking Planet. "Once the integration is done, it just works - they won’t see whether that integration was done with APD or using today’s more laborious approach. "

Carlton said that what is visible to organizations is more platform choice. In her view, the argument is that when hardware/OS integration is much faster, then hardware vendors can invest those resources in new platforms instead to fit a broadening range of environments and use cases. She expects that such a change could accelerate the pace for new choices hitting the market.

From a technical perspective, just as is the case with ACPI, the APD specification is implemented by the hardware vendors in their BIOS.

There are already a number of hardware platforms that have implemented APD. Carlton said that Cumulus expects that the Accton 6712 will be the first one on the market.

"We are implementing APD with all of our hardware partners," Carlton said.

But just because Cumulus has announced the APD specification and contributed it to the Open Compute Project, doesn't mean it's a done deal yet.

"Once their incubation committee approves it, which may be a 3-4 month process, then we expect it will become the standard," Carlton said.

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

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