The open revolution continues. Over the past week, there’s been another surge of networking and data-center deals focused on open networking, open source, and Software Defined Networking (SDN). It’s shows how fast things are moving into SDN and Open Source — especially in the data center — and indicates the revolution may be coming sooner than we think.
I highlighted the open source theme a few weeks ago. More open software platforms are infiltrating nearly every technology niche, giving organizations more flexible options for sharing code and building apps. There is definitely a big move away from purely proprietary code that is locked into one vendor’s platform.
Of course, this is the oft-discussed threat for networking vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc., who are selling their own Operating Systems (OS) on their hardware.
Cumulus Networks makes a flavor of Linux geared toward the networking and data-center markets. Thought technically this is Cumulus’ product, it’s more open than the existing networking proprietary code because it’s compatible with the massive Linux base and it is compatible with a vast array of Linux applications already running. Last week’s deal with Dell to distribute Cumulus Linux with Dell networking hardware was a sign of the building trend — the hardware/OS dominance of the existing networking vendors.
Dell will be giving its customers a choice of OS to run on its hardware, an approach known as “bare metal” where you buy the empty hardware and load it with whatever software you like.
This only confirms that Linux is penetrating deeper into the networking and telecom industry and the trend is moving away from bespoke, proprietary OS platforms and toward a more open model that disaggregates the hardware from the OS.
It’s a good move for Dell. They don’t have much to lose, holding a small market share in networking — so it’s time to through the 4th quarter bomb.
Here’s some other news around the SDN world, along similar themes:
- Brocade is beefing up on SDN talent, hiring some names from Juniper Networks. The company has hired Tom Nadeau to act as a Distinguished Engineer and build up an SDN team at Brocade. SDN Central’s Craig Matsumoto reports that Brocade also hired Benson Schliesser away from Juniper in January, and in late 2012 it hired CTO and Chief Scientist David Meyer, a former member of Cisco’s SDN team and the chair of the OpenDaylight Project’s Technical Steering Committee.
OpenCompute, Facebook’s initiative for designing more open data centers with more efficient, interchangeable parts, appears to be gaining momentum. The fourth Open Compute Summit took place last week, feature speakers such as Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and venture capitalist and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, a partner with Andreessen Horowitz partner.
Zuckerberg said by implementing OpenCompute concepts in the Facebook data centers, the company has saved $1B, largely through energy savings.
“We’ve also saved a lot in terms of the energy consumption,” Zuckerberg told “In just the last year, we have saved the equivalent amount of energy of 40,000 homes, and if we can bring those saving and efficiencies to other companies as well, that’s great.” “We’ve also saved a lot in terms of the energy consumption,” Zuckerberg said, according to this article in InternetNews.com. “In just the last year, we have saved the equivalent amount of energy of 40,000 homes, and if we can bring those saving and efficiencies to other companies as well, that’s great.”
- IO, a cloud services provider, announced IO.cloud, a platform designed specifically for the OpenCompute environment.
All of these moves point to continuing architectural shifts in data-center and telecom networking, as networking and IT pros look to implement more flexible, open architectures. People say that SDN and open source is about being cheap, but it’s more than that. It’s about building in efficiency and flexibility into the roadmap.
Open software, open hardware, and open source. It’s a trend that’s gaining steam and I think the squirming in the chairs of legacy hardware vendors is only going to get more intense.