..bare-metal networking is more than being affordable; it’s about giving customers degrees of freedom, transparency, and choice that they deserve in a mature industry.
In the dark ages of computing (aka 1983), a customer running IBM DB2 had to buy an IBM mainframe (complete with cables, disks, power distribution, memory, and IO) to go with the application. The compute industry has matured to a point where DB2 runs on hardware ranging from mainframes through p-series down into non-IBM x86 platforms hosted on operating systems including z/OS, Unix, Linux, and Windows. Application independent from OS independent from hardware; degrees of freedom and choice.
We view the natural state of the networking supply chain to be one by which customers are able to purchase their networking hardware as “close to the source” as they’d like, starting at original manufacturers all the way through well known Enterprise IT providers. Regardless of the hardware source, customers are able to deploy the networking software of their choice (CumulusLinux for instance :-). There are zero technical barriers to this model, and we do it around compute every day. This allows customers to make a safe capital investment in infrastructure without being locked into any one vendor; suppliers get to earn their spot every cycle.
The attributes of transparency, choice, and degrees of freedom, not price, are driving all of the mega-scale customers to bare-metal networking solutions, whether they do it in house or leverage companies like Cumulus Networks. Make no mistake, ALL mega-scales have revolted and are somewhere on the path towards independence.
Mass availability and access to best-of-breed software and a value chain of features on top of a bare metal switch, as opposed to a proprietary stack pre-integrated custom ASIC solution (which you are stuck with) is NOT about changing the game. It’s what you need to do to STAY in the game. It’s time to scale up, bring the network out of the dark ages, and welcome the unbundled OS.