In what may prove to be a major boon in terms of driving the adoption of open networking products based on Linux, Cumulus Networks this week announced at the VMworld 2015 conference that both Dell and Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT) will be bundling its open networking software along with software from VMware.

Under terms of the bundling agreements, Dell and QCT will configure systems based on VMware (VMW) EVO SDDC software for hyperconverged rack systems with Cumulus Network software that will enable those systems to be integrated with “white box” bare metal switches based on commodity processors.

Reza Malekzadeh, vice president of Business Alliances, Products and Marketing, said this development will go a long way in bringing open networking-based bare metal switches to traditional enterprise IT organizations. While web-scale companies have embraced white box switches in large numbers as an alternative to switches from vendors such as Cisco Systems (CSCO), traditional enterprise IT organizations typically lack the engineering skills required to deploy and manage switches based on a Linux operating system.

Via the software-defined data center software from VMware that is being provided to Dell and QCT it now becomes simpler for IT organizations to manage bare metal switches at a higher level of abstraction using the NSX network virtualization software developed by VMware.

VMware EVO SDDC software is a variant of the same EVO:RAIL software that VMware developed for blade servers. Now available for rack servers, VMware EVO SDDC enables solution providers to create a software-defined hyperconverged platform using almost any mix of IT infrastructure components they want.

In the case of QCT, EVO:RAIL presents an opportunity to counter Nutanix in the race to create a software-defined data center. For Dell, the situation is more nuanced. It resells both Nutanix and VMware EVO:RAIL software. For its part, Cumulus now counts QCT and Dell as resellers of its software, and Nutanix is a technology partner.

In effect, the hyperconverged infrastructure battle is becoming a contest between organizations that promote a more hardware-centric approach vs. a software-centric one that enables IT organizations to more easily swap out different hardware components over time. Naturally, both Nutanix—which is also resold by Dell alongside systems configured with VMware EVO software—and Cisco are the leading champions of hardware-centric approaches. But with the rise of more software-centric approaches to hyperconverged systems, the level of competition across the IT infrastructure space is clearly heating up.

In the case of Cumulus Networks, that software-centric approach to hyperconverged systems is also creating a significant opportunity to now bring bare metal switches along for the ride.