Cumulus Networks unveils updates to its Linux OS and NetQ

Cumulus Networks announced on Monday that it has released Cumulus Linux 4.0, which is its network operating system (OS), and version 2.4 of its NetQ network operations toolset.

Cumulus Networks' Partho Mishra, president and chief product officer, said Cumulus Linux 4.0 and NetQ 2.4 are key elements in the company's ongoing efforts to enable its customers' automation efforts across data centers and campus networks.                        

"From a solutions standpoint, our focus has been on developing automation and the capabilities that our customers are going after to make their data centers run like an AWS or Google," Mishra said. "The biggest thing they focus on is automation and they've made big strides working with us and using their own resources."

While automation holds the promise of deploying 500 switches in 15 minutes with the push of a button, it can also blow 500 switches in the same amount of time if it's not done correctly, which is one of the reasons Cumulus has focused on end-to-end automation for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows in Linux 4.0 including simulation, validation and troubleshooting.

Linux 4.0 also includes support for 134 platforms across 14 ASICs, according to Mishra. Earlier this year, Cumulus Linux was the first network operating system to fully support Minipack, which is Facebook’s modular switch platform. The modular switch platform runs on Broadcom's StrataXGS Tomahawk 3 chipset that features speeds of 12.8 Terabits per second and supports both 100 Gigabit Ethernet and 400 GbE interfaces.

In addition to Broadcom's Tomahawk 3 chipset, Mishra said Linux 4.0 would also support the Tomahawk 4 when it's available.

"The second new chip family that we're introducing support for is the Spectrum-2 chipset from Mellanox and this is the basis of several hardware Mellanox platforms," Mishra said. "This includes both 100G and 200G platforms."

For the top of a rack, Cumulus 4.0 also supports Broadcom's Qumran chipset for deep buffering as well as additional campus networking platforms from Dell.

“Nearly five years ago, we introduced the concept of open networking by working with Cumulus to be the first mainstream switch vendor that allowed third-party operating systems,” said Drew Schulke, vice president, Dell EMC Networking, in a statement. “The new Cumulus enhancements boost the ecosystem that helps customers build the open, modern and scalable networks they need.”

Disaggregated networking enables the ability to deploy commodity switches with an independent networking operating systems offering Layer 2 and Layer 3 intelligence. There are numerous hardware suppliers including Accton, Celestica, EdgeCore, Foxconn, Lanner, and Quanta. In addition to Cumulus, suppliers of network operating systems include Arrcus, Big Switch Networks, Kaloom, 128 Technology, IP Infusion, Pica8, Pluribus, Snaproute and a number of open source options such as Sonic, DANOS and FBOSS.

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Other updates or additions to Campus 4.0 include:

• Migration to the latest Linux kernel for greater route scale, the latest security updates and thousands of contributions from the broader Linux community

•  Support for SwitchDev, which is an open source in-kernel abstraction model that provides a standardized way to program switch ASICs while speeding up development times

 • Enhancements to Cumulus' Ethernet VPN implementation (EVPN-PIM and EVPN multi-homing) for Layer 2 and Layer 3 connectivity   

 • The ability to build a single fabric across data center and campus environments, which enables a common operational model.

Cumulus NetQ 2.4, which includes a cloud-based deployment model, provides a faster means to validate the root cause of network issues across data center and campus fabrics by employing real-time telemetry data. Updates include:  

 • Additional deployment models, including an as-a-service cloud-delivery option

 • Integration with Mellanox’s What Just Happened (WJH) feature for visibility at the packet layer

 • Increased validation capabilities, including closed-loop verification of automated configurations. 

Cumulus 4.0 and NetQ 2.4 are generally available on Monday. While there will be minor updates every three months or so, Mishra said major updates to Cumulus Linux have a cadence of about every 18 months, which means version 5.0 should be out in 2021.

NetQ 3.0 will be released early next year and will include elements to simplify setting up and deploying a data center network, according to Mishra.