Cumulus just released a Network Command Line Utility, or NCLU. This is a command line interface (CLI) for Cumulus Networks products, implemented in Cumulus Linux, with the goal of simplifying the networking configuration process for all users.
We are impressed by the decision of Cumulus to develop and release NCLU, an evolved take on the traditional Command Line Interface. The goal of Cumulus is of course to ease the transition to their web-scale networking for customers with limited Linux experience that are otherwise used to Command Line Interfaces, including CISCO’s own CLI.
Linux and CLI status
Linux had been extensively used by vendors as their embedded Operating System (OS) as this provided multiple benefits; there are tons of open source libraries available to be used and also a vivid community offering a great amount of information and help for tweaking and customizing even the core of the Linux OS.
Switching and routing vendors till now were reluctant to follow this trend, and perhaps an obstacle was that Linux tools for switching and routing lacked a common interface like the CLI.
So, although Linux is so popular for enterprise data centers because of its interoperability, flexibility, scalability, it required from Operators a deep Linux expertise as it lacked a common Command Line Interface (CLI).
Has this changed?
About NCLU from Cumulus
NCLU provides a uniform way to access and use existing and future Linux networking tools through a modern and simple to use interface. NCLU grants users one central point from which they can manually drive the system, giving them the ability to run the network in a manner that is familiar to network engineers and apply all the benefits of standardizing on Linux to achieve significant operational efficiency. Moreover, the interface offers embedded help, configuration suggestions and examples that help users translate well-known network commands, making Cumulus® Linux® now accessible to a broader community of network operators.
“The real value of the Cumulus Linux platform lies in the unparalleled flexibility it offers to networking engineers scaling out their architecture,” said JR Rivers, CTO and Co-founder, Cumulus Networks. “With web-scale networking gaining mainstream adoption, NCLU will dramatically reduce the learning curve for network engineers, enabling the accelerated adoption of Linux as a networking model.”
While it will be familiar to networking professionals used to working with traditional Command Line Interfaces, NCLU offers numerous advantages beyond the norm, including:
- A modern, non-modal design allows users to avoid getting locked into a shell
- The ability to interoperate with the standard Linux interface, automation, and the traditional way of accessing underlying files
- NCLU never leaves bash; for example, you can pipe NCLU output to bash commands
- Guardrails to prevent typos and mistakes, including context-sensitive prompts, embedded help and examples
- Support for rollback to previous configurations
Even with NCLU, customers can still rely on doing networking with existing Linux commands to maintain interface coherency across their data center.
What Customers are saying
“We love the functionality and flexibility of Cumulus Linux but also wanted an interface that allows us to easily configure and manage switches in a familiar realm,” said Paul Roberts, Senior Director of Product and Field Operations at Mirantis. “NCLU bridges that gap, while still allowing us to leverage all the benefits of a standardized Linux interface across our infrastructure.”
More than 550 organizations of all sizes – from small businesses to the largest web-scale data centers in the world – use Cumulus Linux, the original operating system for Web-Scale Networking, to build affordable, high-capacity networks.
NCLU is targeted for general availability in early December, through the upcoming 3.2 release.
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