Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Scott Davis, Vinod Mohan, Jason Bloomberg, Chris Colosimo, Mike Wood

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
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Building a cross-cloud operational model can be a daunting task. Per-cloud silos are not the answer, but neither is a fully generic abstraction plane that strips out capabilities unique to a particular provider. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Wolf, VP & Chief Technology Officer, Global Field & Industry at VMware, will discuss how successful organizations approach cloud operations and management, with insights into where operations should be centralized and when it’s best to decentraliz...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
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 Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, 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. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., 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. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
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.
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
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 ...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...