Hardware support Juniper and Arista

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  • Updated 3 months ago
Dear Cumulus supporter,
I am pretty new to the switching environment and my boss asked me to check if it is possible to get rid of the proprietary switch software like Ci.., HP.., Juni.. and so on.
So I decided to give it a try to take the OCP approach of facebook by separating hardware from software.
Sadly I am really pretty quickly getting stuck with the hardware, since the switch vendors do not release information about the switches well.

E.g. I would like to setup a test lab, for a small network. My budget is also very small, so I have no option to spend multiple thousands of $ for a lab setup. Therefore I tend to go to the used market and to take 48x 1G-baseT switches and with 2/4 10G uplinks.

I have found following switches, which would fit into my budget for a lab setup.
- Juniper EX3300-48T
- Arista 7048T-A

My questions,
- are they supported by cumulus linux?
- will cumulus linux be installable on both on the naked hardware? (if so is where any documentation how to do it)?
- how to find out what CPU, RAM and so on are used on such hardware?
- what versions of cumulus linux are supported?
- are there more supported low budget switches with longer support for my lab setup? Which one could you recommend?

I have read already the HCL also I have tried to understand from the documentation, but it looks like I am to fresh in the topic to get the full picture.
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Hans Kaiser

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Posted 3 months ago

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Pete B, Official Rep

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Hi Hans, if you're on a tight budget, have you considered trying out a virtual network with Cumulus in the Cloud, or download Cumulus VX and use one of our demos from GitHub?



We don't run on either of those switches you mention. Essentially, if the switch supports ONIE (which is a bootloader for switches that Cumulus created but contributed to the Open Compute Project), then Cumulus Linux should run on it. http://www.onie.org

I hope this helps.
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Hans Kaiser

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Hello Pete,

many thanks for your very fast reply.

Now I am pretty confused.

From the HCL I see the support for both switches:
Dell S3048-ON and EdgeCore AS4610-54P
I thought my mentioned switches are hardware identical switches?

Do I get it properly?
I need a ONIE enabled switch to be able to run cumulus linux on top of ONIE? Means Cumulus-Linux will be virtualized on the switch?
Is it possible to flash an vendor created switch with ONIE and thus to get to the cumulus linux environment?

Regarding the virtual network, yes I can assume it is possible to virtualize it, but I need to show it on real hardware switches to check and test the functionality in the whole.

Can you recommend me books, documents to read to understand the big picture better?

Can you recommend me preowned/used or low budget switches for my lab setup? Maybe also a supplier?

best wishes
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Mike Brown, Employee

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Hi Hans.

Just to add a little to Pete's answer, the complete list of the platforms we support is found here:


Like Pete said, there are plenty of ways to set up a network to lab test CumulusLinux without any actual hardware, including having virtual servers.

I often use this demo because it has the ability to quickly bring up a basic topo, with spines, leafs, and servers:

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Hans Kaiser

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Mike, thank you for the HCL, I have meant exactly the HCL you refer to. And if you check the given Hardware you will see both shall be supported, therefore I am pretty confused

As said, yes for the software development we will use of course vagrant and all possiblities, but the level of test we need to ensure is also it will work on real hardware. So I am focusing now on real hardware (and not on virtual environments, which of course are available for our devs)
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Pete B, Official Rep

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Sorry for the confusion. ONIE is just a bootloader, like PXE with servers, which is used to load the OS for installation. Cumulus Linux does not run virtualized; it runs directly on the hardware. 

The Arista and Juniper switches you listed are equivalent to the Dell and Edgecore ones on the HCL. While they may be identical in terms of hardware, I'm not sure the Arista and Juniper support ONIE. I'll ask someone else here and verify. 

Our main website has a host of resources (case studies, webinars, guides) that should hopefully help https://cumulusnetworks.com/learn/web-scale-networking-resources/

I'll also ask someone about suppliers. That's out of my domain. 
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Mike Brown, Employee

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On the question of installing ONIE on non-ONIE, but similar switches.  The answer if 'it depends on the switch'.  Sometimes the switch is identical on the ONIE and non-ONIE versions, and sometimes there are slight differences in flash, RAM, or EEPROM programming that make it either impossible or very difficult to convert a box to ONIE.

We only support boxes that are ONIE models on our HCL, since trying to determine what is required to convert a non-ONIE box to a supported ONIE box is quite challenging and can end in frustration and failure. 

On the question of how ONIE and CumulusLinux interact:  ONIE is a boot loader, somewhat similar to GRUB.  It enables the installation of CumulusLinux (and other OS's) via an open industry standard.  Once CumulusLinux is loaded directly on the box, ONIE is no longer running, so CumulusLinux is a native OS on the box, not a virtualized entity.

However CumulusLinux VX is a virtualized image of CumulusLinux that can run on several hypervisors for lab testing and simulation.  The VX image runs on a host, not a switch.  It has all the essential capabilities of a switch except for the things that are specific to the switch hardware and of course, packet throughput performance.

Our user docs have CumulusLinux installation instructions as well as separate VX documentation.  Those may be the best docs to read. 
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Jan Marquardt

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Hi Hans,

Arista and Juniper neither support Cumulus Linux nor ONIE. They are only mentioned in the HCL for comparison. The model and brand columns are the relevant ones for you.

Best Regards

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Mike Brown, Employee

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Jan's comment is correct.  I mistakenly thought the Arista and Juniper models were the same models as the ONIE versions except without ONIE.  Some manufacturers sell the same switch in an ONIE version and a non-ONIE version and usually you cannot convert one to the other successfully.  In the case of a completely different model of switch - that will never work with CumulusLinux.
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Hans Kaiser

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Hello together,
@Jan, if a Hardware Compatibility List references hardware as equivalents, so the first assumption is that you can choose between them. So if this is not the case, the HCL shall get quickly updated to avoid confusion.
Also it shall be mentioned, that only already ONIE enabled switches are able to run Cumulus Linux on the switch.
Also if there is a option to sync the both HCL lists from ONIE and Cumuls-Linux this should be done. Because the lists are somehow diverging.

I'am really interested in testing the Cumulus-Linux and I know what it is hard to get some docs done. I'am working on linux since the first year after the initial release by Linus. Linux gained its velocity, since it was pretty easy to get it started on the target environment. Also I did not start on the pretty expensive servers that days, I used some aged lab hardware to do tests and when I bought the full fledged servers (here switches) to get my problems in production solved.

So either it would be great to have a option of getting test hardware for lease, or to be able to buy some preowned cheaper hardware, or to have docs how to flash existing standard switches - like the current HCL implies. (lack of restrictions to ONIE)
Sadly none of this options exist.
@Pete, did you had some luck regarding your queries?

Regarding virtualized tests, yes I can test the functions and APIs, but I cannot test if the drivers, modules and so on work on the real hardware. Nore can I test if the physical environment works as well like it does virtualized. So I am aware of the virtual envs, which help to test logical functions, but it does not evict the case to test it under real "production-near" conditions.
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Jason Guy, Employee

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I agree the term "equivalent" is wrong, and opened a bug to get it changed to "Comparable" or "Similar". The idea of that column is to provide a way for customers to compare the open networking device to some of the well-known proprietary devices by other vendors. The only devices we support are listed in the "Model" column.

The ONIE hardware list is all the devices that support ONIE. The Cumulus HCL are all the devices on the ONIE list that support Cumulus Linux. So the lists are not "diverging"; our HCL is a subset of the ONIE list. Supporting ONIE is one thing; the development required to support a NOS on an open networking platform is significantly more work. :) 

Hope this clears things up.
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Pete B, Official Rep

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@Hans, I spoke with one of our partners and he'd be happy to connect you to one of our suppliers. Should I introduce you two over email?