Modular networking in a volatile business environment

By GIXnews

Organizational change, growth, and environmental diversity are all challenges for IT teams, and they’re going to be a part of everyday life for the foreseeable future. As the number of device models and network architectures increases, so, too, does management complexity. Coping with 2020’s ongoing gift of unpredictability requires technological agility, something Cumulus Networks, acquired by NVIDIA, can help you with.

It’s easy to worry about the consequences of our collective, rapidly changing economic circumstances as though the problems presented are somehow novel. They’re not.

2020 has increased uncertainty, leading to an increased velocity of change, but change is the only constant in life, and the need for agile networking has been obvious to many in the industry for some time. Even without problems like having to rapidly figure out how to cope with large chunks of the workforce working from home, change-responsive networking has been a challenge for organizations experiencing growth for decades, a problem many continue to struggle with today.

At a practical level, one of the biggest problems with rapid change is that it quickly leads to a dilemma: precisely meet the needs of the moment, resulting in a significant uptick in equipment diversity, or deploy a limited range of devices. Increased equipment diversity creates increased administrative overhead, while deploying a limited range of devices usually results in the provisioning of unnecessarily powerful (and consequently expensive) equipment.

NVIDIA-Cumulus Linux

As “austerity” sees renewed adoption in the corporate lexicon, the traditional practice of massive over-provisioning is less likely to be acceptable. It may be easier to manage all your switches if you only have three models out in the wild, but if the bean counters haven’t started asking questions about why 48-port switches are being deployed to locations with five devices, they soon will.

This leaves allowing equipment diversity to accelerate as the only realistic option to coping with change, and that means finding a way to manage it. The ability to deploy a single operating system to all your networking equipment is beneficial, as is having a capable central management platform, as well as strong support for industry standards and open source.

In other words, a complex and changing business environment really plays to NVIDIA-Cumulus Linux’s strengths!

NVIDIA-Cumulus Linux is an open network operating system that sits at the center of a diverse (and growing) hardware ecosystem. Whatever your needs, there exists a switch on which Cumulus Linux can be installed to meet them. All of these switches, big and small, can be centrally managed using Cumulus NetQ, greatly reducing the problems associated with equipment diversity.

A single operating system has more advantages than enabling more-capable centralized management, however: It provides the perfect environment for organizations to deploy scripting and other software directly onto their networking equipment. One operating system means a single application environment, which means that scripts written for one switch will work on another. This really starts to matter at scale.

Go big

In order to take advantage of this, however, organizations need to be able to deploy NVIDIA-Cumulus Linux as widely as possible throughout their infrastructure. That involves not only the ability to deploy NVIDIA-Cumulus to small access and branch switches, it also means getting some mighty capable iron into the data center.

Cumulus Networks announced at OCP Summit 2019 that Cumulus Linux is the first network operating system to fully support the Minipack next-generation modular switch platform. Minipack was developed by Edgecore and subsequently contributed to the Open Compute Project by Facebook.

Minipack is a modular switch, and conveys two notable benefits. First, it goes zoom: It can be equipped with 128x 100Gbit or 32x 400Gbit ports, offering an incredible 12.8Tbit of throughput.

Second, Minipack switch chassis can be deployed with only the exact number and type of modules required, allowing IT teams to keep both equipment diversity and over-provisioning to a minimum.

Put it all together

It’s easy to view both centralized management and modular switches without much excitement: Networking vendors have been shipping both for years. What makes Cumulus so different? The answer is: What you can do when you start putting it all together.

Open networking switches tend to be cheaper than their proprietary competitors. That was one of the goals of the project. Modular switches are more flexible by their very nature, and this also helps control costs. NVIDIA-Cumulus Linux brings all the advantages of a single operating system to the table, and NVIDIA-Cumulus NetQ centralized management makes it all easier to use.

NVIDIA-Cumulus Networks allows businesses to grow rapidly if needed, without having to pay for a lot of unused capacity. This keeps risks and costs low, but offers the agility to respond to market opportunities. To learn more about the benefits of open networking, download our free whitepaper here.

Source:: Cumulus Networks