Move Over, Cisco IOS: Dawn Of The Industry-Standard Switch

Paul Venezia | InfoWorld | June 24, 2013

Bring your own switch, load your own operating system, and save a bundle -- maybe

Last week, I wrote about Cumulus Networks unveiling Cumulus Linux, a Linux distribution that you load onto an original design manufacturer (ODM) switch instead of the age-old standard of buying the switch and its software from the same vendor. I had a long chat with JR Rivers, CEO of Cumulus Networks, about what Cumulus has been up to for the past three years and where he sees things heading in the future. One thing seems certain: The cost of switching is likely to drop significantly. 

Cumulus claims that its solution will allow you to deploy 10G switches for the price of 1G switches from a "traditional" vendor, and that the switching hardware itself is in many cases the exact same hardware. This is because switching vendors buy these same switches (with their branding and requested flourishes), load them with their own proprietary software, and sell them as their own with a significant markup. If you can get essentially the same bare-bones switch hardware and load your own software on it, you can bypass the middle tier and reap the rewards.