Today I’m excited to announce the company that will transform the networking industry for the cloud era, Cumulus Networks, which has been in stealth for over three years. We were seed investors in Cumulus Networks and later went on to lead their Series A.
In the last decade, the compute side of the datacenter was completely revolutionized by Linux and virtualization running on commodity servers. By untethering the software (i.e., the operating system) from the hardware, the Lintel (Linux and Intel) stack obviated the need for dedicated hardware solutions such as Sun Servers in one fell swoop, bringing radically new economics, performance, scale and innovation to datacenter and cloud environments. This shift became the foundation for the software-defined datacenter.
However, while the server has undergone a complete transformation, the networking stack has remained completely unchanged. In spite of all the recent excitement with OpenFlow and Software-Defined Networking, the OS running inside network gear—the networking switch—is still very much proprietary and tied to proprietary hardware. Today’s most “innovative” network gear resembles a last-generation Sun Server: proprietary, inflexible, expensive and difficult to maintain.
Enter Cumulus Networks, which brings Linux to Networking and can be combined with software-defined networking (e.g. Nicira) to complete the transformation of the network stack for the cloud era. Just as Linux transformed the server, Cumulus Linux will transform the network by making proprietary hardware and software obsolete. Cloud and enterprise datacenters can now choose commodity hardware plus Cumulus Linux software to achieve cloud-scale networking that provides the flexibility and superior economics that only software can deliver.
Cumulus Networks would not be possible if not for the team behind the solution. The founding team, which includes JR Rivers and Nolan Leake, has deep expertise in networking, virtualization and cloud infrastructure. The team also includes a number of senior Engineers from Juniper and Cisco Fellows, which is an elite group of engineers responsible for the most innovative advancements in networking. The founders knew a secret: They knew that networking would no longer require proprietary hardware and software and that the shift to cloud-scale environments would require a new and modern approach to networking. Cumulus Networks is bringing the Linux revolution to networking.
Our investment in Cumulus Networks underscores our excitement about the future of software-based networking. I am thrilled to be representing Andreessen Horowitz on the board of Cumulus Networks and look forward to seeing the transformation of older generation networking to the new architecture of the cloud era.