Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Lori MacVittie, Carmen Gonzalez, Paul Speciale, Sandi Mappic, Elizabeth White

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
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Ashar Baig, Research ...
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, will focus on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud pla...
StackIQ offers a comprehensive software suite that automates the deployment, provisioning, and management of Big Infrastructure. With StackIQ’s software, you can spin up fully configured big data clusters, quickly and consistently — from bare-metal up to the applications layer — and manage them efficiently. Our software’s modular architecture allows customers to integrate nearly any application with the StackIQ software stack.
As Platform as a Service (PaaS) matures as a category, developers should have the ability to use the programming language of their choice to build applications and have access to a wide array of services. Bluemix is IBM's open cloud development platform that enables users to easily build cloud-based, creative mobile and web applications without having to spend large amounts of time and resources on configuring infrastructure and multiple software licenses. In this track, you will learn about the...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: ...
Compute virtualization has been transformational, yet security policy implementation and enforcement has lagged behind in agility and automation. There are a number of key considerations when implementing policy in private and hybrid clouds. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Holland Barry, VP of Technology at Catbird, will discuss the impact of this new paradigm and what organizations can do today to safely move to software-defined network and compute architectures, including: How normal ope...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: S...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff hap...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customiz...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + Elasti...
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud? What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense? Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT tranformation? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, John Hatem, head of V...
Cloud services are the newest tool in the arsenal of IT products in the market today. These cloud services integrate process and tools. In order to use these products effectively, organizations must have a good understanding of themselves and their business requirements. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Brian Lewis, Principal Architect at Verizon Cloud, will outline key areas of organizational focus, and how to formalize an actionable plan when migrating applications and internal services to...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, will discuss how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP ...
Ixia develops amazing products so its customers can connect the world. Ixia helps its customers provide an always-on user experience through fast, secure delivery of dynamic connected technologies and services. Through actionable insights that accelerate and secure application and service delivery, Ixia's customers benefit from faster time to market, optimized application performance and higher-quality deployments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue bu...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce t...
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has dem...