Cumulus, HPE partner on StoreFabric M-Series integration

While the two companies have partnered before, they think that the high-performance M-Series switches are an ideal match for the integration of their technologies.

Partho Mishra, President and Chief Product Officer, Cumulus Networks

Networking software provider Cumulus Networks has announced a new relationship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The partnership is focused on HPE’s StoreFabric M-Series Ethernet Switches, and will see them run Cumulus Linux and NetQ.

This is not the first time that HPE and Cumulus have worked together, but it is the first time they have worked jointly to address this segment of the market.

“We used to have an agreement with them around their Altoline open networking switches,” said Partho Mishra, President and Chief Product Officer, Cumulus Networks. HPE created Altoline as a basic open networking switch using the OpenSwitch OS which would work with third party software and be somewhat price competitive with inexpensive white box networking. Mishra said that it wasn’t a good fit with Cumulus, however.

“It wasn’t successful commercially,” he stated. “Most customers didn’t want to run Cumulus switches and Altoline together.”

HPE’s higher-end M-switches first came onto the market in 2017 through an HPE partnership with Mellanox, and Cumulus thinks that the new integration with these switches is a much more logical one. Several years ago, HPE’s core partnership around their higher end switches was with Arista, but Mishra said that changed after Arista entered the enterprise campus switching market in 2018.

“What HPE has been working on since the introduction of the M-switches is offering storage solutions with the server, the backup, and all the network interconnect,” Mishra said.  “We bring the high-performance open networking that complements their storage to provide a stronger and more scalable networking fabric.”

The integration will see HPE’s StoreFabric M-Series Ethernet Switches  run Cumulus Linux and the Cumulus NetQ network operations toolset.

“We have worked with Mellanox for many years, and have done a lot of work around this with HPE over the last five or six months,” Mishra indicated.

Mishra said that while Cumulus actively sells into the high-performance market, the new relationship with HPE will expand their presence among customers where the networking teams are not the customers.

“While our Go-to-Market is very broad, a significant segment which we haven’t been reaching is where networking solutions aren’t being bought by a typical networking IT team,” he noted. “Networking teams are 90% of our customers. But there are some customers where the storage or server teams buy the networking. What this agreement does is open up this entire segment for us. HPE benefits because they get a very modern OS where workflow deployment is completely automated.”

Cumulus has not joined the HPE Complete program, the company’s institutional mechanism for taking third party vendors to market with HPE sellers and channel partners.  These groups will have access to Cumulus, however.

“Think of this as like an OEM,” Mishra said. “It’s a full reseller agreement. They will sell it like an HPE product and provide the support.”

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