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Cumulus Networks

Cumulus Networks provide a popular Network Operating System (NOS) for bare metal switches.

What separates Cumulus from other NOS companies is that Cumulus is not purely focussed on the large SDN Data Center. As well as offering the standard L3 fabric and overlay options, Cumulus also allows you to build a purely L2 fabric where the L2/L3 boundary exists at the Spine which is generally more common is smaller networks.

One of the other differentiators with Cumulus is that it is a Linux OS, not Linux based OS, it’s actually a fork of Debian. This means that Bash is the main interface.

This also means that just like any other Linux distro you can install addition packages as necessary. The big advantage here, is that this means Cumulus Linux can take advantage of all standard automation and orchestration tools. It also means that you are not stuck with a particular routing platform. Cumulus like many, recommend the Quagga platform, but if you wanted to use an alternative such as BIRD you can do so. In the same vein if you wanted to add a 2 factor authentication plugin for your device you can.

The only think to remember is that configuration will not be from a single point, you will need to go to /etc/interfaces to configure interfaces and you will need to use Quagga to perform routing. The point here however is that it is unlikely that you will be going to each node to configure the system you will be using an automation platform, so as always it comes down to determining what you require from a platform not how to do it.


  • Zero touch Provisioning (ZTP) OS installation and upgrade
  • ONIE boot loader
  • Network Virtualization/ Overlay Networks using VXLAN
  • Open Source compatibility
  • Linux OS
  • No restriction on design

Hardware Compatibility

Cumulus are very open about the hardware that they support, so as with most NOS vendors providing the Hardware you select is on the hardware compatibility list they will offer support.

Their HCL can be found here: https://cumulusnetworks.com/support/linux-hardware-compatibility-list/


Cumulus have validated designs for both OpenStack and vSphere environments and in future posts well take a look at the interface and how easy or not Cumulus is to use.

About Stephen Ransome

Stephen Ransome is an IT consultant and network nerd with experience ranging from SMBs to Service Providers, he has a passion for learning new technologies and delivering solutions that count. He has some alphabet soup, including CCIE#41102 and is far more cynical than he should be.