Cumulus and Nutanix partnered on an integrated product that combines Nutanix’s hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) stack with Cumulus’ open networking software.
The new systems, available now, deploy Cumulus NetQ on switches and Nutanix AHV nodes. NetQ is the vendor’s telemetry-based fabric validation system that monitors the network and ensures it is behaving as intended.
Nutanix’s HCI makes compute and storage more flexible and scalable, said Cumulus CEO Josh Leslie. “But it still gets complicated when you get into the networking piece,” he said. “If you buy six or eight or 20 nodes of Nutanix infrastructure, you still have to connect them to each other and back to some broader network.”
This is where Cumulus’s software comes into play. “We allow Nutanix users and systems to automatically connect when Cumulus systems are present,” Leslie said “We built an integration that allows our switches to automatically see the Nutanix nodes and automatically create all the connections required.”
Additionally, Cumulus is a software-only company and Nutanix is almost a software-only company. Both of them share the same major hardware partners: Lenovo, Supermicro, Mellanox, and Dell EMC.
“This lets the customers go to a single hardware supplier, get a rack of bare metal systems, and then install all the software that can automatically configure the systems,” Leslie said. “It’s about how can I make the networking simple and easy so my customers don’t even know it is there.”
Making Networking Easy
In addition to shortening the time required to stand up Nutanix clusters, the integration provides better network reliability. It also provides visibility across the management fabric to validate network designs and simplify troubleshooting. And customers can discover virtual machine (VM) changes in Nutanix clusters, provision network resources automatically, and update VLAN assignments with a single interface via Nutanix Prism management software.
“It reduces the friction between the virtual network and the physical network,” said Mike Wronski, principal product marketing manager at Nutanix. “This becomes end-to-end network automation for customers using Cumulus and Nutanix AHV.”
Nutanix has its own SDN tool called Flow. But Wronski said it plays a complementary role with Cumulus’ networking platform.
“Flow, in a literal sense, is SDN. But with Flow we are focusing on security use cases where virtualization allows me to be very granular, provide micro-segmentation, and understand what VMs can talk to other VMs,” he said. “It’s a one-plus-one-equals-three scenario. We’re doing a lot of great networking in the virtual space and that includes security as a focal point. And then the rest of the networking that is in the physical space goes to a partner like Cumulus.”
Battling VMware, Cisco
Another thing the partnership does is allow both vendors to battle their respective competitors.
“Nutanix obviously has their eyes set on VMware, and Nutanix has the motivation to simplify networking to more effectively compete with VMware,” Leslie said. “We live to compete with Arista and Cisco. That’s what we do every day, and having a better partnership and a better story for Nutanix customers is just one more way to do that.”―SDxCentral