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Arista Networks: Cloud Networking?

Arista Networks is a company stocked with executives whose pedigrees read like the who's-who from the networking metaverse.  The CEO of Arista is none other than Jayshree Ullal, the former senior Vice President at Cisco responsible for their Data Center, Switching and Services and Andres von Bechtolsheim from Sun/Granite/Cisco serves as Chief Development Officer and Chairman.

I set about to understand what business Arista was in and what problems they aim to solve given their catchy (kitchy?) tagline of Cloud Networking™

Arista makes 10GE switches utilizing a Linux-based OS they call EOS which provides high-performance networking. 

The EOS features a "…multi-process state sharing architecture that completely
separates networking state from the processing itself. This enables
fault recovery and incremental software updates on a fine-grain process
basis without affecting the state of the system."

I read through the definition/criteria that describes Arista's Cloud Networking value proposition: scalability, low latency, guaranteed delivery, extensible management and self-healing resiliency.

These seem like a reasonable set of assertions but I don't see much of a difference between these requirements and the transformative requirements of internal enterprise networks today, especially with the adoption of virtualization and real time infrastructure. 

Pawing through their Cloud Networking Q&A, I was struck by the fact that the fundamental assumptions being made by Arista around the definition of Cloud Computing are very myopic and really seem to echo the immaturity of the definition of the "cloud" TODAY based upon the industry bellweathers being offered up as examples of leaders in the "cloud" space.

Let's take a look at a couple of points that make me scratch my head:

Q1:     What is Cloud Computing?    
A1: Cloud Computing is hosting applications and data in large centralized datacenters and accessing them from anywhere on the web, including wireless and mobile devices. Typically the applications and data is distributed to  make them scalable and fault tolerant. This has been pioneered by applications such as Google Apps and Salesfore.com, but by now there are
hundreds of services and applications that are available over the net, including platform services such as Amazon Elastic Cloud and Simple Storage Service.

That's  a very narrow definition of cloud computing and seems to be rooted in examples of large, centrally-hosted providers today such as those quoted.  This definition seems to be at odds with other cloud computing providers such as 3tera and others who rely on distributed computing resources that may or may not be centrally located.

Q4:     Is Enterprise Cloud Computing the same as Server Virtualization? 
A4:     They are not. Server Virtualization means running multiple virtualized operating systems on a single physical server using a Hypervisor, such as VMware, HyperV, or KVM/XVM .  Cloud computing is delivering scalable applications that run on a remote pool of servers and are available to users from anywhere. Basically all cloud computing applications today run directly on a physical server without the use of virtualization or Hypervisors. However, virtualization is a great building block for enterprise cloud computing environments that use dynamic resource allocation across a pool of servers.

While I don't disagree that consolidation through server virtualization is not the same thing as cloud computing, the statement that "basically all cloud computing applications today run directly
on a physical server without the use of virtualization or Hypervisors" is simply untrue.

Q5:     What is Cloud Networking?  
A5:     Cloud Networking is the networking infrastructure required to support cloud computing, which requires fundamental improvement in network scalability, reliability, and latency beyond what traditional enterprise networks have offered.  In each of these dimension the needs of a cloud computing network are at least an order of magnitude greater than for traditional enterprise networks.

I don't see how that assertion has been formulated or substantiated.

I'm puzzled when I look at Arista's assertion that existing and emerging networking solutions from the likes of Cisco are not capable of providing these capabilities while they simultaneously seem to shrug off the convergence of storage and networking.  Perhaps they simply plan on supporting FCoE over 10GE to deal with this?

Further,  ignoring the (initial) tighter coupling of networkng with virtualization to become more virtualization-aware with the likes of what we see from the Cisco/VMware partnership delivering VN-Link and the Nexus 1000v, Ieaves me shaking my head in bewilderment.

Further, with the oft-cited example of Amazon's cloud model as a reference case for Arista, they seem to ignore the fact that EC2 is based upon Xen and is now offering both virtualized Linux and Windows VM support for their app. stack.

It's unclear to me what problem they solve that distinguishes them from entrenched competitors/market leaders in the networking space unless the entire value proposition is really hinged on lower cost.  Further, I couldn't find much information on who funded (besides the angel round from von Bechtolsheim) Arista and I can't help but wonder if this is another Cisco "spin-in" that is actually underwritten by the Jolly Green Networking Giant.

If you've got any useful G2 on Arista (or you're from Arista and want to chat,) please do drop me a line…


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  1. Honestly…
    October 24th, 2008 at 14:32 | #1

    Arista is a SWITCH networking company.
    They (aim to) make better and faster switches.
    Thats all.
    Virtualization ? Clowds ? Storage ?
    Nice buzz.. Possible driver for sales…
    cloud Network – just marketing chow… ignore.. next..

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