Nov 07

NVIDIA Spectrum Switches with Cumulus Linux Improve User Experience and Meet Microsoft Azure Stack HCI Requirements  

Many IT administrators are looking to replace their traditional storage area networks (SAN) with a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). Microsoft Azure Stack HCI delivers a highly scalable, cost-effective, and high-performance software-defined offering that consolidates storage, compute and networking, simplifies management, and brings the power of Azure to deliver a seamless hybrid cloud experience.  

As part of each DataON Integrated System for Azure Stack HCI, DataON employs a complete NVIDIA end-to-end networking solution, featuring NVIDIA (formerly Mellanox) Spectrum® Ethernet switches and ConnectX® network adapters. Spectrum switches are available in many form factors with port speeds spanning from 1 to 100GbE and deliver high performance and consistent low latency along with support for advanced software-defined networking features, making it the ideal choice for hyper-converged storage, hybrid cloud, cloud, data analytics applications, and web-scale IT.  

NVIDIA has worked closely with the Microsoft team to ensure that Spectrum switches meet the physical networking requirements for Azure Stack HCI, including Priority Flow Control (PFC), Enhanced Transmission Selection (ETS), and Custom TLVs in LLDP transmission. As a result, all Spectrum switches with DataON Integrated Systems for Azure Stack HCI will now come pre-installed and configured with Cumulus Linux 5.1 or later. 

What is Cumulus Linux?
NVIDIA Cumulus Linux is a powerful, feature-rich open networking OS that accelerates NVIDIA platforms and enables IT administrators to better automate, customize, and scale using web-scale principles like those found in many of the largest Fortune 50 data centers. Cumulus Linux supports layer 2, layer 3, and overlay networks and includes centralized, remote management for AI deployments with over-the-air software updates, remote debugging, and system monitoring as well as other features like self-healing systems. In addition, Spectrum’s programmable ASIC and open ASIC drivers allow Cumulus Linux full access and control. 

Complete Standardization and Cloud Scale Efficiency
With a single command line interface, Cumulus Linux reduces complexities and provides complete interoperability across the entire data center. This reduces time-to-production up to 95%. IT admins can also use existing open source and Linux tools for automation, monitoring and more to improve efficiency and allow each admin to manage more switches. In addition, IT admins can use the NVIDIA User Experience (NVUE) object model included within Cumulus Linux to make automation and integration even easier.  

Accelerated Ethernet Performance
Built for high performance networking and easily configured RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) acceleration, Cumulus Linux supports new, adaptive routing and congestion control technology for modern workloads like AI, hybrid-cloud, cloud, and storage. In addition, for cloud-scale IP routing, Cumulus Linux takes advantage of the open-source free range routing (FRR) stack.  

Enhanced Network Protection
In addition to industry-standard security features in Intel, Microsoft, and NVIDIA architectures, Cumulus Linux authenticates and authorizes attached devices with 802.1x, provides Kernel Address Space Randomization and additional CPU protection through hardware-enforced access control list-based rate limiting control in the event of a denial of service (DoS) attack.  

Standardized Network Configurations for Azure Stack HCI
NVIDIA worked with Microsoft to create standardized configurations in Azure Stack HCI deployments with Spectrum switches to optimize traffic between hyper-converged nodes and ensure a seamless experience during server deployments.  

Additionally, DataON validates, tests, and tunes all its Integrated Systems for Azure Stack HCI with NVIDIA Spectrum switches (running Cumulus Linux) and ConnectX network adapters to eliminate hardware and driver incompatibility and simplify deployment. For existing Spectrum switch customers who own Spectrum switches, NVIDIA makes it easy to upgrade to Cumulus Linux from Onyx OS.