Cumulus Networks™ Brings the Power of Linux® to Networking

Cumulus Linux™ Fills Void in the Software Defined Datacenter for an Independent Network Operating System; Deployed by Service Providers and Enterprises

GigaOM Structure 2013
Velocity 2013

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--()--Cumulus Networks today emerged from stealth to unveil Cumulus Linux, the first true, full-featured Linux operating system for datacenter networking. Already in deployment by several next-generation service providers and enterprises, Cumulus Linux enables fast, easy and affordable networking and fills the void for a truly standalone network operating system (OS). These benefits are helping customers fulfill the promise of the software-defined datacenter.

"DreamHost's large-scale, high-capacity cloud network is greatly enhanced by the use of Cumulus technology, giving us hardware platform flexibility, significantly improved automation and management, and fantastic performance," said Jonathan LaCour, VP Product and Development at DreamHost. "Cumulus Linux represents a fundamental shift in how service providers build out cloud-scale networks."

Cumulus Linux is in large-scale commercial deployment with one of the world’s biggest cloud providers, as well as a newer generation of cloud service providers such as DreamHost and Fastly.

The Linux Revolution for Networking

“Linux revolutionized the compute-side of the datacenter over the past 15 years. Having a common OS broke vendor lock-in, drove down server hardware cost, allowed scale-out architectures, and provided a common platform for innovations like virtualization. Meanwhile networking remained stagnant,” said JR Rivers, co-founder and CEO of Cumulus Networks. “Innovation is finally coming to the network, and we are bringing that same transformational impact that Linux has had on datacenter economics and innovation to the networking side of the house.”

Enterprises and service providers operating modern datacenters face three interlocking challenges. They need to create infrastructure that is higher capacity, less complex and affordable. And they need to address those three challenges in a way that supports new, more fluid application architectures with great agility and efficiency. The network is vital to making this all work.

Incumbent networking solutions are flawed for numerous reasons: they are proprietary with tightly integrated hardware and software. They are expensive and complex. There are no common toolsets to orchestrate, automate and monitor them. And they are prone to human error.

Cumulus solves these problems by providing the crucial network operating system. For the first time, customers can take advantage of the price-performance of so-called “industry-standard” or “bare- metal” hardware as well as the agility and automation of the new generation of “software-defined” datacenter software and native Linux-based toolsets.

New Datacenter Economics & Agility

Cumulus Linux is the foundation for a network that is much faster, far simpler and more affordable than incumbent models.

  • Faster: Cumulus Networks helps customers get more capacity for their budget by enabling the use of the new generation of high-speed switching gear – without vendor lock-in. Bare-metal gear from Quanta, Accton and Agema deliver unprecedented price-performance. Until now, it was impossible for the majority of companies to take advantage of this hardware
  • Simpler & Greater Agility: Cumulus Linux radically simplifies orchestration, automation and monitoring of networks giving IT the agility to support business applications and imperatives in record time. By providing an underlying OS for common Linux-based toolsets, customers can use automation tools such as Chef or Puppet and monitoring tools like Ganglia and collectd. Cumulus also works with overlay network technologies such as network virtualization from VMware. Because it sits at the edge of the network, Cumulus Linux also allows for routing between physical and virtual servers – an unprecedented capability. As a result, tasks that previously took days or weeks as one-off projects can be standardized and completed in minutes.
  • Affordable: Cumulus Networks drives radical CAPEX and OPEX cost-savings. Because Cumulus Linux runs on a broad array of “bare-metal” network hardware from vendors like Quanta, Accton and Agema, customers can purchase hardware at cost far lower than incumbents. At the same time, hardware running Cumulus Linux can run right alongside existing systems because Cumulus Linux uses industry standard switching and routing protocols. In terms of operational expenditures, Linux-savvy IT teams can use common Linux-based toolsets to administer both server and network infrastructure. More importantly, when companies spend less on hardware per unit they can invest the difference to build better, higher-capacity, more flexible networks.

Cumulus Networks was founded by veteran networking engineers from Cisco and VMware in 2010. Led by CEO JR Rivers and CTO Nolan Leake, the company has raised over $15 million in venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Peter Wagner and four of the original VMware founders.

“Andreessen Horowitz is betting heavily on the transformation of the datacenter 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, Partner, 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 datacenter is massive as well.”

Cumulus CEO JR Rivers will be speaking at 1:55pm on June 19 during the GigaOM Structure conference in San Francisco. Cumulus Networks will also be exhibiting at Velocity in Santa Clara June 18-20 in booth P6.

Additional Commentary


“Broadcom's StrataXGS® platform is ideal for public and private cloud, Web 2.0 and other modern, high-bandwidth applications that are driving the need for scalability and efficiency in the data center," said Sujal Das, Broadcom Director of Product Marketing, Core Switch. "We are pleased that Cumulus Networks has chosen our platform to develop their operating system to enable data center operators to achieve unprecedented levels of scale and efficiency."


There is an emerging network architecture being adopted by enterprises and service providers consisting of intelligent edge software, decoupled from the underlying physical network, running over general purpose network hardware. There are many benefits to this architecture, such as a software operational model and software innovation speeds, but the biggest benefit is customer choice,” said Hatem Naguib, vice president of networking and security, VMware. “Cumulus Linux provides customers more flexibility in choosing the underlying infrastructure used to deploy network virtualization from VMware.”


"Cumulus Networks is a new breed of open network vendors, finally extensibility with powerful hardware acceleration,” said Artur Bergman, CEO of Fastly. “Their open platform allows us to utilize the same network flow control as server platforms, offering a consistent management experience."


“Enterprises and cloud service providers are seeking a competitive edge by delivering more business services faster and at lower costs through next-generation data center infrastructure,” said George Tchaparian, SVP and CTO of Accton Technology Corporation. “Accton is excited to partner with Cumulus Networks in leading the networking industry with innovative, reliable, and cost effective switching solutions.”


“New data centers drive the need for high-bandwidth connections between servers and automation to allow management at scale,” said Honda Wu, CEO of Agema System, Inc. "Cumulus Networks is a key partner in transforming the networking industry with a modern Linux networking operating system and standard enterprise grade OS-agnostic switches.”


"Production-grade elastic clouds require rapid, repeatable, deployment models. Open Cloud System (OCS) relies on open systems that facilitate easy scalability and automation," said Randy Bias, Co-founder and CTO of Cloudscaling. "With Cumulus Linux and the use of standard server management tools, Cloudscaling will be able to deliver a fully configured data center fabric that is robust, highly performant, and scales with a customer’s cloud growth."


"Jointly, Cumulus Network and CFEngine are able to deliver a fully automated and commoditized datacenter,” said Thomas Ryd, Co-founder and VP of Business Development at CFEngine. “Using off-the-shelf server-, storage- and network hardware, they offer software to help next generation infrastructure engineers automate all datacenter functions from one console, as one unified team."


"Network innovation will be absolutely critical to the long-term success of cloud computing--in both the public and private realms. Cumulus Networks is driving exactly that type of innovation, driving public cloud cost efficiencies into the network side of OpenStack-based private clouds," said Sean Lynch, Founder and CEO of Metacloud. “As an OpenStack cloud provider, we're extremely interested in and supportive of the work Cumulus is doing."


"Managing a web-scale data center requires the agility, speed, and scalability that can only come with automation," said Jay Wampold, VP of Marketing, Opscode. "By presenting a standard Linux interface, Cumulus Linux allows Opscode Chef to manage switches as if they were just another Linux node, delivering the full benefits of automation for networking."


“Modern datacenters and distributed applications require high performance networks to connect compute clusters,” said Mike Yang, general manager and vice president of Quanta QCT. “The combined value of Quanta’s global-scale engineering and manufacturing capabilities and Cumulus Networks’ next generation Linux network operating-systems will deliver unprecedented performance, scalability and value to cloud datacenters worldwide.”

Penguin Computing

"The trend towards open systems and architectures is now taking hold in the network world providing more choice and flexibility for customers at reduced cost,” said Charles Wuischpard, CEO Penguin Computing. “We have been successfully delivering open Linux based solutions for fifteen years. Partnering with Cumulus who is introducing a Linux based software stack to the world of switches is a natural fit for us. We are excited to announce that we will be offering the Cumulus software stack across Penguin Computing’s new portfolio of 1GbE, 10GbE and 40GbE switches."

Piston Cloud:

"Piston Cloud's turn-key cloud software allows DevOps teams to easily deploy and manage an OpenStack private cloud, freeing them to focus on building application rather than infrastructure," said Joshua McKenty, co-founder and CTO of Piston Cloud. "Combining it with Cumulus Linux, we can deliver the same automated management benefits to the networking infrastructure and help our customers realize the full potential of the software defined datacenter."


"Cumulus Networks and PLUMgrid are an ideal combination for automated datacenter solutions that, in tandem, deliver increased efficiencies for our customers' data center operations," said Pere Monclus, Co-founder and CTO at PLUMgrid. "Cumulus Networks is one of the leading innovators in physical network infrastructure that complements PLUMgrid's break-through Virtual Network Infrastructure products."


“We are seeing a high level of interest among large enterprises wanting to replicate the efficiency and agility of mega-scale datacenters such as Google’s. However, while ESG research shows that these enterprises are consolidating their datacenters, building out multi-tenant environments and making them more cloud-like, the network still represents a barrier for most. Only a handful of organizations have the resources to write their own code for bare metal networking gear. Cumulus Networks is opening up the Google-style model to a much broader set of companies.” Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

“Pressure is mounting on datacenter networks to provide an agile and dynamic infrastructure that is more closely aligned with the needs of burgeoning application workloads and changing traffic patterns. 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 datacenters in continuous pursuit of IT agility and CapEx and OpEx efficiencies.” Brad Casemore, research director for Datacenter Networks, IDC

"For too long the networking world has been artificially constrained by proprietary solutions that tie specific hardware to deeply proprietary software. The launch of Cumulus Linux changes all that and could well be the point which heralds a blossoming of innovation in the networking world fueled by open hardware and open software. In the way that Linus Torvalds gave users alternatives to the proprietary hegemony, so too could a best-of-breed ecosystem in networking platforms break open this cozy world." Ben Kepes, Principal and Analyst,

Pricing and Availability

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.

Additional Media Resources

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About Cumulus Networks

Cumulus Networks is bringing the Linux revolution to networking. Founded by veteran networking engineers from Cisco and VMware, Cumulus Networks makes the first Linux operating system for networking hardware and fills a critical gap in realizing the true promise of the software-defined datacenter. Just as Linux completely transformed the economics and innovation on the server side of the datacenter, Cumulus Linux will do the same for the network. It is radically reducing the costs and complexities of operating modern datacenter networks for service providers and enterprises. Cumulus Networks has received venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Peter Wagner and four of the original VMware founders. For more information visit or follow @cumulusnetworks.

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Cumulus Networks
Eddie McGraw, +1-415-356-0466

Release Summary

Cumulus Networks today emerged from stealth to unveil Cumulus Linux, the first true, full-featured Linux operating system for datacenter networking, fulfilling the promise of SDDC.


Cumulus Networks
Eddie McGraw, +1-415-356-0466