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Cumulus Enhances Network Linux Distribution

The Cumulus Linux 2.0 OS includes support for Broadcom's latest networking silicon, as well as new toolsets and OpenStack integration.

Cumulus Networks is rolling out the latest version of its Linux network operating system, expanding the networking platforms and architectures it supports.

The company is announcing Cumulus Linux 2.0 five months after it debuted with version 1.5. The operating system is designed to enable businesses to separate the buying of the network hardware from the software, Cumulus officials said when the company came out of stealth mode in June. Most networking hardware comes with the vendor's proprietary operating system, from Cisco Systems' IOS, IOS-XR and NX-OS to Juniper Networks' Junos and Extreme Networks' ExtremeXOS.

Bringing a Linux distribution to the networking field means businesses can buy whatever hardware they want and run a Linux OS on top of it, similar to how IT departments buy servers, they said. By separating the OS from the hardware, the Cumulus Linux also further enables the adoption of software-defined networks (SDNs).

With Cumulus Linux 2.0, the company is expanding the network hardware support and platform densities it can handle by leveraging Broadcom's StrataXGS Trident II switch system-on-a-chip (SoC). The new Broadcom silicon offers up to 2.56T bps of I/O bandwidth, supports such features as VXLAN for network virtualization and can support a range of port densities—such as ninety-six 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports or six 40GbE ports—enabling larger and more flexible fabrics, according to officials.

The new OS also makes it easier for organizations to unify their virtual and physical networks, they said.

"Cumulus Linux 1.5 brought the Linux revolution to networking, enabling the same automation and orchestration tools in the network as were available in the server world," Aurelie Fonteny, product manager at Cumulus, wrote in a post on the company blog. "Cumulus Linux 2.0 goes one step beyond by enabling not only an ecosystem of open-source applications but also working with partners to take their commercial versions and make it ready for the distribution."

Among the new capabilities in Cumulus Linux 2.0 are new toolsets for everything from routing to network virtualization to orchestration, including integration with the OpenStack open-source cloud orchestration platform.