Tag Archives: bare metal switch

What Are the Commonalities of Switches Supporting Cumulus Linux

As the first full-featured Linux based operating system (OS), Cumulus Linux has injected great possibilities and new vitality in networking field in these two years. Due to its great effort in open networking, Cumulus Linux has been one of the three leading OSs in the market. The another two are IP Infusion OcNOS and Pica8 PICOS. Recently, the collaboration between FS and Cumulus Networks has been made. The N-series open switches from FS will be pre-installed the latest Cumulus Linux OS to customers. At the moment of their joint effort in achieving open networking, we are going to make an analysis of the similar features of the open manageable switch supported by Cumulus Linux.

FS Collaborates with Cumulus Networks

Figure 1: FS Collaborates with Cumulus Networks

An Overview of Cumulus Linux

Cumulus Linux is a flexible open network operating system, which can be installed on various open switches, including the layer 2 switch and layer 3 switches. The code used to build Linux is free and available for users to view or edit. Therefore, it looks like the world’s largest data center that allows users to automate, customize and scale using web-scale principles. After the installation of the Cumulus Linux OS, the open switch can act as a Linux server.

Cumulus Linux

Figure 2: Cumulus Linux

Similarities of Open Switches Supporting Cumulus Linux

Featured with supporting a broad partner ecosystem, the Cumulus Linux gives customers more options and flexibility in data center networking regarding switch type, CPU, chip type, and supported transceivers.

Switch Type

Generally, open switches that support Cumulus Linux are bare mental switches coming with open network install environment (ONIE). In that case, no matter you have a brite box switch like Cisco switch, or a white box switch like FS switch, Cumulus Linux can be accessible to them. Nowadays, in the market of open switches, the 32-port and 48-port switches with 40G/100G transmission speed are commonly applied by enterprise users. Considering their high-density and greater agility needs for networking, the open switches are mostly layer 3 switches so as to achieve spine-leaf or overlay architectures.


The open switch CPU that supports Cumulus Linux OS usually comes in three types: ARMv7, PowerPC, and x86_64. Among these three types, x86_64 is the most popular one, adopted by most vendors, such as Dell, HPE, Mellanox, and FS.

Chip Type
Chips of Open Switches

Figure 3: Chips of Open Switches

Currently, Broadcom chip and Mellanox chip are the major roles of switch chip. The Mellanox type is usually used by Mellanox itself or Penguin. Therefore, the Broadcom type dominates the largest switch chip market share, installed by the most brand vendors or the third party suppliers.

Supported Transceivers

Since most open switches support high-speed transmissions, the matching transceivers are QSFP28, QSFP+, and SFP28. Only some 10G and 1G open switches will need to use SFP+ and SFP transceivers. By the way, viewing the trend, you will find 25G Ethernet has been deployed by many enterprise users in recent years for high bandwidth need. Accordingly, the 25G open switch has been a more economical and efficient choice than 1G or 10G switches. Also, the 25G switch will be the best solution to pave the road for the upcoming 100G/400G Ethernet in the future.


Just like the agility and simplicity the Cumulus Linux has advocated, it brings a truly economical and open network environment for users. With so many choices for open switch type, CPU, chip, and supported transceivers, it liberates the choices for open switches, which begets an open networking market in the end.

Open Switch—One Contributor to Open Source Network

With the higher and higher demand for network agility and scalability, traditional networking has been no longer satisfying. In that case, the open source network has been an urgent need. To meet with this new trend, here comes our open switch, a great contributor to the open networking.

What Is Open Switch?

Open switches refer to switches in which the hardware and software are separate components that can be changed independently of each other. That means you will gain more flexibility to tailor your own network switch. Conventionally, the open source switch in the market can mainly be classified into the bare metal switch, white box switch, and brite box switch.

Open Switch

Figure 1:Open Switch

Open Switch Hardware

The open hardware means the hardware of an open switch can support multiple operating systems (OS). This is in contrast to closed switches, in which the hardware and software are always purchased together. For example, if you buy a Juniper EX or MX you also buy JUNOS; if you buy a Cisco Catalyst switch you buy IOS. However, things will be different with open switches. In the context of that, no matter which type of open source switch you are using, it’s possible to support many operating systems instead of a proprietary one. By the way, the hardware manufacturers of the open switch are primarily Taiwanese, including Accton, Quanta QCT, Alpha Networks, and Delta Computer. These same companies are original design manufacturers (ODMs) for many of the mainstream switch vendors.

Open Hardware

Figure 2: Open Hardware

Open Switch Software

The open software signifies that an OS can be run on multiple hardware configurations. As we mentioned before, you don’t need to buy an OS from the original brand of your switch hardware. For example, if you have Cumulus Linux, you can buy a layer 3 switch without a brand label. They still work well with each other. In the past, most people have no choice but to use brite box switch that integrates OS and hardware of branded suppliers. Now, with an open switch software, choices and economic efficiency will be largely expanded and improved. Generally, there are three popular open softwares in the market: Cumulus Linux, IP Infusion OcNOS and Pica8 PICOS.

Cumulus Linux Software

Figure 3: Cumulus Linux Software

Why Choose Open Switch?

  • With an open source switch, more flexibility, and options can be enjoyed. There is no need to configure your switch as in the past or wait for vendors to release new software or hardware.
  • It brings the open source network to operators, enterprises, third-party vendors and network users, accelerates the innovation speed of new services and functions of the network deployment, and takes users closer to SDN (software-defined network) and NFV (network functions virtualization).
  • The network simplicity and reliability can be improved through the automated centralized network device management, unified deployment strategies, and fewer configuration errors.
  • The network flexibility and scalability have been greatly increased, which will also save much cost and time for IT workers and enterprises.


In this post, we make an exploration of the open switch. From the introduction to its hardware, software, and benefits, we can understand why the open switch has been a great facilitator for open networking.