Dell buys into the open-source network

Dell buys into the open-source network

Summary: Dell doesn't wants to be just your data center server provider. In partnership with Cumulus Networks, they want to be your open-source network services provider as well.


Dell's been involved in serious networking for years, but never quite like this. The Austin, TX PC and server giant is partnering up with Cumulus Networks to deliver Linux-based, bare-metal networking devices..

Cumulus Network Model
Here's an overview of the Cumulus Linux network model.

Cumulus Networks has its own Linux distribution, Cumulus Linux. This Linux is designed to run on top of industry-standard networking hardware. Above it. you can run both Linux- and third-party data center-ready networking applications. It supports port densities ranging from 48x1Gbps (Gigabit per second) ports to wire-rate 32x40Gbps ports on a wide variety of networking switches. Cumulus is also working with Facebook on its Open Compute network switches.

According to Dell, their "vision of the new data center networking model is an open ecosystem where customers can choose among various industry-standard networking gear, network applications and network operating systems to meet their business needs." If that sounds familiar, it should. It comes straight from the Open Compute playbook.

Dell also welcomes the rise of open-source based, software-defined networking (SDN). Indeed, Dell is a member of the Linux Foundation's OpenDaylight SDN project. Thus, Dell's partnership with Cumulus is just a natural next step in its embrace of the open-source network.

More such moves will be coming. Dell stated that its reseller agreement with Cumulus is only the first such partnership "in an ecosystem to fill a critical gap in realizing the true promise of the software-defined data center." Specifically, Dell will begin offering Cumulus Linux network OS as an option for its Dell Networking S6000 and S4810 top-of-rack switches.

"This is a market development that we suspected might happen," said Brad Casemore, IDC's research director of Datacenter Networks in a statement. "Cloud-service providers and large-enterprise customers are thoroughly evaluating alternatives to their traditional datacenter network infrastructure. Dell has chosen to position itself as a strong proponent of disaggregation of network hardware and software, while Cumulus Networks has struck a partnership with a major vendor to gain favorable exposure in more customer accounts. This announcement is emblematic of an eventful period in datacenter networking, and such alliances will become increasingly important as developments such as network disaggregation reconfigure industry ecosystems."

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Topics: Data Centers, Dell, Linux, Networking

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  • Smart move for Dell.

    Nothing beats Linux networking.
  • If serius, will work fine

    Many servers run Linux inside. If Dell is really serious, will go far.
    I've seen a Ministry in my country where they run m$ server for internet and mail, but one part of the equipment, that came with McAfee anti-virus, run on Debian GNU/Linux :-D I was so happilly shocked when I saw it booting, once.
    By the way, Dell "Linux laptops" didn't sell good because they were not the top hardware, and as expensive as the windows counterpart, and their site ALWAYS stated: "Dell recommends windows...". That is not a good policy ;-)
  • Dell's relationship with open source

    Dell has gone in various ways with its relationship with open source, particularly GNU/Linux on devices. Offering Ubuntu then pulling it back within days. As always, on the PC side my suspicion has been that Dell was being influenced by a 3rd party with its offerings (i.e. Microsoft). However, with this device it is different and will be interesting to see how this plays out. Devices like this have a niche market. Big players like Cisco still dominate. However Dell does seem to be going this direction based on some past acquisitions, like Kace for example which uses open source software for its management appliances.
  • Dell as Trojan Horse for Linux technologies

    Since Dell is wedded and beholden to Microsoft, especially with the 4 $billion loan?? from Redmond since becoming a private company, it would behoove any potential Linux Networking or OpenStack Cloud Computing customers of Dell to strongly reconsider, based on past performances of Dell's very sporadic and dysfunctional relationship with Linux and other non Microsoft ventures, and the fact that these new Dell/Linux partnerships collide directly in sales and competition with Microsoft's new age technology products, services and focus.

    Networking and Virtualization/Cloud Computing experts with two of the other largest firms in this sphere have reasonably speculated, based on their intimate knowledge of Dell business that the company is likely to switch Linux customers to an "all" Microsoft foundation within a year, on the marketing premise of greater synergy and value, but which would most likely result in larger operational costs, reduced flexibility and reliability, and particularly weak security if Microsoft Cloud and network security track records are of any account.

    However, since the Dell/Microsoft combo still carries a lot of influence and nostalgia in corporate America, such bait and switch tactic if carried out will probably succeed - at least in bilking customers financially.
    The Chinese, Europeans and several South American countries meanwhile are smiling while continuing on their productive tand successful rack to Linux and Open Source ecosystems without the concerns of US technology industry with Microsoft and their DELL, HP shenanigans.
  • Completely mental Microsofties

    For the edification of Loverock Davidson (if possible), Juniper Networks, Broadcom, Avaya, Ericsson, Cisco (mostly), Netflix, Google, AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and others - most all networking companies in USA and internationally - rely almost exclusively on Linux or BSD UNIX-like networking technologies for their business. Even Microsoft uses FreeBSD networking technologies since the company could not innovate or create any worthwhile networking technology of it's own if the company's existence depended on it. Remember, nut-case, the Internet was built with BSD UNIX-Like OS and networking, for which Linux shares much it it's internals.

    To claim that Linux - as if some individual, single entity "leaves telnet port open" in routers bespeaks the total ignorance and idiocy of this individual about any aspect of networking protocols and standards knowledge or expertise. If D-link or Netgear set such weak configuration in their equipment, that has no bearing of the literally dozens of settings possible in Linux based networking gear by a vendor.

    However, I suspect that this person, along with the other lost, deluded Microsoft dupes that comment regularly and incoherently on ZDNet, cannot come to grips with the reality of today that does not favour Microsoft much longer.

    Loverock Davis will probably self destruct when they learn of the recent report - from an affiliate of World Wide Web Consortium, - the International body responsible for Web standards and protocols - of Windows Internet Explorer (IE) slipping to only 9% Web browser market share - compared to 30s -50s % for Firefox and Google Chrome. Similar results are emanating from and other respected, credible Internet/Networking information sources.
    Or he/she will dispute the findings as always, even if verified by almighty God.