Open Ethernet gains further momentum with deployment of standard Linux operating systems over Ethernet switches


12 Oct 2016 Sunnyvale, Yokneam - Mellanox Technologies Ltd. has made available standard Linux kernel driver for the company Open Ethernet, Spectrum switch platforms. Developed within the large Linux community, the new driver enables standard Linux Operating Systems and off-the-shelf Linux-based applications to operate on the switch, including L2 and L3 switching. Open Ethernet provides data centers with the flexibility to choose the best hardware platform and the best software platform, resulting in optimized data center performance and higher return on investment.

Mellanox Technologies' Open Ethernet switch platforms, which currently support multiple operating systems, such as Cumulus Linux, MLNX-OS and more, now also support any native Linux operating system. Mellanox is the first Ethernet switch solution provider to offer such a variety of options for its Spectrum Open Ethernet switch portfolio.

"The eco-system effort currently underway to enable Open Ethernet switch infrastructure is gaining strong momentum, as it enables IT managers to fully optimize their data centers for maximum performance and lower cost of ownership", stated Dror Goldenberg, vice president of software architecture at Mellanox Technologies. "The community endeavour to enable the native Linux operating system will further simplify the adoption of Open Ethernet across a variety of data centres. As the market leader in this arena, we expect to continue to lead the Open Ethernet adoption."

Mellanox breaks the dependency of using vendor-specific, closed-source, software development kits (SDK). The open-source Linux solution, "switchdev" driver, is developed and maintained in the Linux kernel, replacing proprietary APIs with standard Linux kernel interfaces to control the switch hardware. Standard Linux networking applications can be natively deployed over Mellanox switch solutions.

"We are excited to expand our existing partnership with Mellanox to produce a general purpose Ubuntu Core image for the SN2000 switch", stated Manik Taneja, Ubuntu Core Product Manager at Canonical. "This was made possible by making a kernel snap with the upstream Linux kernel Spectrum switchdev support. Combining the native Linux kernel functionality provided by switchdev, standard Ubuntu Core, and cross-distribution snap applications enables a large ecosystem of developers to quickly innovate and re-envision a switch's potential."

Mellanox offers the Spectrum switch systems series, the SN2000, as pre-installed with Open Network Install Environment (ONIE), allowing users to natively install and use any standard Linux distribution as the switch operating system. This "transforms" the switches to operate as yet another server within the data centre and therefore greatly reduces management efforts while reducing data centre OPEX and CAPEX.

"We believe open, flexible technologies pave the way for innovation and transformation. And companies like Mellanox can assist us in that journey by contributing to the open ecosystem", stated Damascene Joachimpillai, Architect, Cloud Hardware, Network and Security, Verizon Labs. "It's no surprise that software service modernization will rely on solutions that take advantage of Linux. One of the major advancements in recent times in Linux Networking is the switchdev integration which provides a well-known, well-documented and controlled abstraction, which gives end users the ability to choose the best-of-breed switching solution."

The Linux kernel driver is available for all Mellanox Spectrum SN2000 switch systems, as well as Mellanox Spectrum switch ASIC. Mellanox Spectrum introduces the world's lowest latency for a 100GbE switching and routing element, and does so while having the lowest power consumption in the market. The SN2000 portfolio offers various combinations of number of ports and ports speeds (10/25/40/50/100GbE), including the SN2100, the highest density, half-width 16-port non-blocking 100GbE switch.
Source: Mellanox