Cumulus Networks announces Open Network Install Environment (ONIE)

The launch of NSX by VMware drove a lot of attentions on network virtualization one of the key elements to achieve the SDDC (Software-Defined Data Center) goal.
Cumulus Networks announced today that its Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) has been formally accepted by the Open Compute Prject (OCP) outlining an approach to the integration of hardware and software (in this case the OS) on network appliances, on a different side, but complementary to VMware.

Of course ONIE is not a network virtualization technology, and Cumulus Networks is a VMware partner that supports NSX, but the company is working on a different front than other vendors who are also facing virtualization’s incursion in the network world.

The ONIE open source project, endorsed from several names in networking industry like Agema, Big Switch Networks, Broadcom, Edge-Core Networks, Mellanox Technologies, Penguin Computing and Quanta, provides a boot loader for installing software on bare metal ODM network switches as well as the upcoming OCP Network Switch design specification, the objective is to allow customers to freely choose a combination of compatible hardware and network operating system.

How ONIE Works

ONIE is the combination of a boot loader and a small Linux operating system for bare metal network switches that provides an environment for automated software download, installation and provisioning. As a component of the open hardware switch platform, ONIE will contribute to and advance standards that define the hardware/software interface. ONIE allows end-users and channel partners to install the target network OS as part of data center provisioning, in the fashion that servers are provisioned.


  • Combines a boot loader with a modern Linux kernel
  • Provides an environment for installing and removing any network OS
  • Eliminates lock-in from pre-installed network OS
  • Aids in the automation of large scale data center switch provisioning