Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Greg Schulz, Liz McMillan, Scott Davis, Jim Hansen, Carl J. Levine

Blog Feed Post

From white box to bare metal: Dell to run Cumulus SW on Force10 switches

Big news in networking today as Dell announced plans to ship its Force10 switches with Cumulus software. The news is covered in several places, including the following:

These articles do a good job of explaining what Dell and Cumulus are up to. I won’t rehash the product or technical details here. But what are the implications of this announcement?

When Cumulus first came onto the networking scene, the talk was all about decoupling networking hardware and software and how that would help lead the white box switching movement forward. The hope was that by separating the brains from the brawn – the network OS from the underlying switching hardware – the switches themselves would become dumb transport devices, allowing them to be replaced by commodity switches.

At the same time, they advanced a familiar thread in networking by saying that the decoupling of hardware and software would help fight vendor lock-in. At the time, this argument specious. Supporting a network OS across a set of functionally identical white box switches doesn’t provide any choice. Customers would basically have their choice of the same device manufactured by several different vendors. Choice of manufacturer is not really what people were looking for, so the optionality argument put forth was somewhat disingenuous at the time.

Today’s announcement changes both of these points in a significant way.

By shipping their Linux-based networking operating system on a mainstream vendor switch, Cumulus is proving that they are capable of doing more than just running on top of a reference switching design. This means that customers have the option of selecting into a Cumulus environment and effectively swapping out the underlying devices depending on the specific need. That is not to suggest that there are not barriers to change once you get settled on a single platform, but those barriers are more palatable when the software that runs on top remains constant. Indeed, much of the lock-in for any networking solution is in the software. If the software is constant, the hardware is more open to change.

But the subtle point here is that the driving decision for customers might not always be the lowest possible price for a hardware platform. If the future of networking is going to be the lowest possible CapEx, then the only platforms Cumulus ought spend any time supporting are the lowest-cost platforms. But that’s not what’s happening.

To date, Cumulus has been somewhat complicit in propagating the message that it is all about CapEx. They have driven, or at least allowed, the conversation towards CapEx. Strategically, this was a pretty crafty move. The story, even if not entirely true, is pretty easy to understand, and if there is one thing that we have learned with this whole wave of SDN and related technologies, it’s that people are moved by simple stories. There is no simpler story than saying that the future of networking will necessarily follow the server evolution, resulting in cheap white box switches.

Somewhere along the way, the story started to change. White box became bare metal, and, if you watch closely, CapEx is becoming OpEx.

This was a necessary shift. The reality is that competing on a pure CapEx difference was never going to be a successful long-term play. While CapEx will work for a time, the simple fact that most of the switching world is converging on a narrow set of switching silicon means that the difference in price between the low and high ends of the market is going to become smaller over time. On top of that, the high end of that space is dominated by incumbents who have enough volume to negotiate better per-unit pricing, which allows them to get even more competitive on price.

So what is likely next for Cumulus?

This should be a relatively noticeable inflection point in their go-to-market strategy. I would guess that 2014 becomes a lot more about OpEx than CapEx. They should start to lean more heavily on their Linux foundation (though, to be fair, almost everyone has a Linux base at this point). They will likely shift their public dialogue more towards automation and DevOps. In private meetings, they will likely talk about support pricing as well (particularly in comparison to Cisco support costs, a long-time customer pet peeve). I say that the supporting pricing will be private because any real public discussion about pricing allows Cisco to just change their support costs on a per-deal basis and effectively squash that differentiator.

The interesting impacts, though, are not really related to product. Now that Cumulus has lined up Dell, how long before some of the other vendors come along? It is not a huge stretch to see someone like Extreme come along for the ride. They already announced support for Big Switch’s SwitchLight software, so opening up to another player would be a natural move (though it would depend on the terms of that relationship, obviously). After that, HP becomes interesting. How far up-market can this go? When all is said and done, can Cumulus hop on board enough single-digit players to move their addressable share to north of 10%? It is worth noting that Cumulus will not be sold on 100% of their partner solutions, so it really is addressable share more than actual share.

And if they do make progress over time, what happens to the industry if VMWare takes them out? It could be that Cumulus is an interesting way to add a software-only product to the networking portfolio, a nice complement to NSX. This would basically galvanize a number of players against Cisco, allowing a common go-to-market framework. Sure, the individual players lose a bit of their ability to differentiate in software, but market share hasn’t been moving for many of these companies anyway. Their best bet could be to become a nuisance to Cisco in switching, which could tie Cisco up in a way that makes them less capable of responding on other fronts.

The companies that become extremely interesting in this scenario are those companies who have made gains in switching. Brocade has been making progress, so it would be more difficult for them to make the leap to a Cumulus network OS like the others. Brocade has already started talking OpEx and automation, so they could have the go-to-market capabilities to go it alone, drafting on the shift in industry dialogue.

It’s difficult to predict what will happen with any precision, but this partnership certainly has war rooms across the industry spun up today. Ultimately, these types of moves are good for customers, even if they make life a little chaotic on the vendor side for awhile.

[Today's fun fact: A Boeing 747′s wingspan is longer than the Wright brother’s first flight.]

The post From white box to bare metal: Dell to run Cumulus SW on Force10 switches appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Michael Bushong

The best marketing efforts leverage deep technology understanding with a highly-approachable means of communicating. Plexxi's Vice President of Marketing Michael Bushong has acquired these skills having spent 12 years at Juniper Networks where he led product management, product strategy and product marketing organizations for Juniper's flagship operating system, Junos. Michael spent the last several years at Juniper leading their SDN efforts across both service provider and enterprise markets. Prior to Juniper, Michael spent time at database supplier Sybase, and ASIC design tool companies Synopsis and Magma Design Automation. Michael's undergraduate work at the University of California Berkeley in advanced fluid mechanics and heat transfer lend new meaning to the marketing phrase "This isn't rocket science."

@CloudExpo Stories
VeriStor Systems has announced that CRN has named VeriStor to its 2017 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Elite 150 category. This annual list recognizes North American solution providers with cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services. Their offerings help companies navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of IT, improve operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on IT investments. In today’s fast-paced business environments, MSPs play an important role...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
FinTech is the sum of financial and technology, and it’s one of the fastest growing tech industries. Total global investments in FinTech almost reached $50 billion last year, but there is still a great deal of confusion over what it is and what it means – especially as it applies to retirement. Building financial startups is not simple, but with the right team, technology and an innovative approach it can be an extremely interesting domain to disrupt. FinTech heralds a financial revolution that...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Deep learning has been very successful in social sciences and specially areas where there is a lot of data. Trading is another field that can be viewed as social science with a lot of data. With the advent of Deep Learning and Big Data technologies for efficient computation, we are finally able to use the same methods in investment management as we would in face recognition or in making chat-bots. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Gaurav Chakravorty, co-founder and Head of Strategy Development ...
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named “Platinum Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business – from apparel to energy – is being rewritten by software. From ...
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facing...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
Now that the world has connected “things,” we need to build these devices as truly intelligent in order to create instantaneous and precise results. This means you have to do as much of the processing at the point of entry as you can: at the edge. The killer use cases for IoT are becoming manifest through AI engines on edge devices. An autonomous car has this dual edge/cloud analytics model, producing precise, real-time results. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Eng...
In the enterprise today, connected IoT devices are everywhere – both inside and outside corporate environments. The need to identify, manage, control and secure a quickly growing web of connections and outside devices is making the already challenging task of security even more important, and onerous. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Rich Boyer, CISO and Chief Architect for Security at NTT i3, will discuss new ways of thinking and the approaches needed to address the emerging challenges of securit...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, will posit that disruption is inevitable for c...
There are 66 million network cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud. Non-essential data is recycled to optimize storage.