AI, IoT at Core of HPE-Cumulus Datacenter Partnership

As part of a newly minted partnership between Cumulus Networks and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), HPE's StoreFabric M-Series Ethernet Switches will now run Cumulus's Linux OS and NetQ management software.

The partnership will deliver "a flexible networking fabric that is predictable, scalable and reliable," according to the two companies. The partnership is aimed at giving datacenters the ability to handle the increasing demands of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and the advent of the fifth-generation of cellular wireless (5G).

Combining the HPE M-Series switches with Cumulus Linux and NetQ produces a high-bandwidth and low-latency solution for connecting primary, secondary, hyperconverged, NAS or object storage systems, which is ideal for building an Ethernet Storage Fabric (ESF). Together, they provide an open, fully automated storage networking fabric for the datacenter.

Demand for ESF technology has been growing steadily since the concept emerged about eight years ago. In a recent report, MarketsandMarkets predicted that the ESF sector will grow from $1.2 billion in 2019 to $2.3 billion by 2024 "due to the growing demand for high bandwidth, performance, and scalability in enterprise and cloud service provider datacenter."

"Storage networks built on M-series switches deliver high levels of performance and ultra-low latency," said Marty Lans, general manager of HPE's Storage Connectivity group. "Adding Cumulus Linux and NetQ to the M-series now provides enterprises with greater network flexibility, increased scale, and deeper levels of automation making this a compelling solution for Ethernet Storage Fabrics."

Cumulus Linux is an open-source, Linux-based OS for bare metal switches—switches from original design manufacturers like HPE, among others, with no network OS loaded on them. It was created to accelerate networking functions on a network switch in datacenter network infrastructures, effectively acting as a platform for managed servers.

"Many modern data centers feature all flash storage architectures designed to meet the needs of high-performance applications," said Josh Leslie, CEO of Cumulus Networks, in a statement, "but what has often limited these applications from reaching their true potential was networking."

In 2019, industry analyst firm Gartner named HPE a leader in its Magic Quadrant for hyperconverged infrastructure. HPE partnered with hyperconverged infrastructure company Nutanix in 2019 to deliver hybrid cloud-as-a-service through its own GreenLake platform.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at