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"Andreessen Horowitz is betting heavily on the transformation of the data center from something that was traditionally hardware-centric to a new world where the intelligence lives in software. Nicira was an investment that addressed a key part of this, and now Cumulus Networks is filling another critical piece on the networking side," said Peter Levine, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
"The recent announcement from Facebook's Open Compute Project underscored this need for a Linux OS for networking. Clearly the need is massive. And the opportunities for enterprises and service providers to drive massive new efficiencies in the data center is massive as well."
A Necessary Step
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, told us what Cumulus is doing isn't unique -- other vendors are out there doing it. But, he added, these types of solutions are important.
"While the original intention of software-defined networks was that people would use commodity switches from ODMs [original device manufacturers], I don't think that model scales because it's very difficult to get support for that," Kerravala said.
"This class of vendors offers a software overlay, and an operating system that goes in the box. So if you are Google or Amazon you are more likely to write your own operating system, but if you are one of the other million companies out there looking at SDNs, having that software on top of it is actually one of the missing pieces from the pure ODM model."
Cumulus has support from the likes of Broadcom, VMware and a slew of analysts, including Enterprise Strategy Group and IDC.
"Pressure is mounting on data center networks to provide an agile and dynamic infrastructure that is more closely aligned with the needs of burgeoning application workloads and changing traffic patterns," said Brad Casemore, research director for Data Center Networks at IDC. "With the introduction of its Cumulus Linux, Cumulus Networks will respond to those needs in conjunction with its partner ecosystem, placing an early emphasis on hyperscale and cloud data centers in continuous pursuit of IT agility and [capital expenditure] and [operational expenditure] efficiencies."
Cumulus Linux is commercially available now through an annual subscription-pricing model that includes support and maintenance, and scales based on the switch performance capacity.