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Arista Gets With the Programmability Program

Mitch Wagner
12/10/2014
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Looking to attract attention for product instead of lawsuits, Arista today introduced software designed to enhance programmability for its switches. EOS+ is intended to allow network operators to build more flexible and automated networks and drive into the DevOps era.

Arista Networks Inc. , which was sued late last week by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for alleged intellectual property violations, and is also fending off a lawsuit from one of its own co-founders, today announced the EOS+ software platform for network programmability and automation. EOS+ enhances the Extensible Operating System (EOS) that runs on Arista switches, the company says in a statement. EOS+ allows network operators to use off-the-shelf and custom EOS applications and integrate with partner solutions from A10 Networks Inc. , Ansible Inc. , Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), Puppet Labs , VMTurbo Inc. and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

EOS+ is designed to allow network operators to deploy applications rapidly using DevOps models, reducing opex, Arista says. Arista says it provides control plane and data path programmability, and writes traffic steering and monitoring applications that integrate with Sysdb and the EOS stack running on Arista devices.

EOS+ also includes an SDK framework to develop and test code in, Arista says.

The goal is to provide network operators with greater visibility and control over their network, converging DevOps and NetOps, says the vendor.

EOS+ includes EOS SDK, a software development kit allowing native access to EOS. vEOS is a virtual machine instance of EOS that includes the same control plane and management plane as physical switches, allowing network operators to use EOS virtual switches for development and certifying EOS applications. EOS+ also includes pre-built applications from technology partners including Puppet and Splunk for provisioning and monitoring. Finally, Arista is providing EOS Consulting Services for development of customized solutions for network automation.

Arista customers include large data center and hypercloud providers, including Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Facebook . Arista also has carrier customers.

The Arista announcement is the latest in a series of vendors beefing up their programmable network offerings. Most recently, ConteXtream added support for OpenDaylight and other standards to its ContexNet SDN fabric, designed to allow service providers to provide customized services to customers. Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s Nuage Networks and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) are also enhancing programmability for their switches and introducing programmable SDN controllers.

But there are some key differences between what Arista is doing and its competitors. For example, while the Brocade SDN controller runs on a variety of hardware, Arista is sticking with its own switches, which run on merchant silicon. "But we are not -- at least not at this point -- allowing EOS to run on other vendors' hardware. That is technically possible. It is a core aspect of the technology we built. But we are currently marketing and assessing the customer readiness for such an architecture," says Jeff Raymond, VP EOS software and services for Arista.

Switching from the NetOps to DevOps model is a big change for network operators, taking them from wrangling hardware to managing software. The SDK, packaged apps and consulting services are designed to help customers make that transition easier, Raymond says. Arista has a "couple of dozen" people engaged in consulting services. "It's a new service, a couple of months old. We're expecting this to grow and will work with channel partners to ramp it up," he says.

The Cisco lawsuit, filed Friday, charges Arista (which was founded by ex-Cisco employees) with "repeated and pervasive copying of key inventions in Cisco products." The patent and copyright lawsuits charge Arista knowingly includes features in its products violating Cisco's intellectual property rights. Arista markets those features to customers, and brags about them to win investors. Arista copies Cisco user manuals, complete with grammatical errors, Cisco charges. (See Cisco Slams Arista With Massive Patent & Copyright Suit.)

Arista director Dan Scheinman fired back Sunday in a blog post. He writes:

    While I cannot comment about the specifics of the lawsuit, I want to say two things clearly at the outset:

    1. Arista's EOS was developed from the ground up as a nextgeneration network operating system for the cloud based upon the pioneering technologies invented by Arista -- far from the ugly messaging pursued by Cisco on Friday.

    2. Cisco’s lawsuit is just like the lawsuits (actual and threatened) brought against it in the 90's by Lucent, IBM and Nortel -- an attempt by a legacy vendor that is falling behind in the marketplace to use the legal system to try and slow a competitor who is innovating and winning.


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Those legacy vendors sued Cisco then because they couldn't compete, and Cisco is doing the same thing now against Arista, says Scheinman, who as an attorney defended Cisco in those lawsuits.

Arista is also being sued by cofounder David Cheriton and his company, OptumSoft Inc. , over a compiler used in Arista's EOS switch software that Arista licensed royalty-free from OptumSoft. Arista is countersuing and recently replaced its counsel in the OptumSoft case. (See Arista Faces Legal Challenge as It Files for $200M IPO .)

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— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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gins
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gins,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/16/2014 | 8:11:39 PM
DevOps
Arista's move with EOS+ reflects fundamental changes, which put legacy vendors at risk.   We use the term 'DevOps Networking' to reflect this new fusion of networking and programming expertise.  Announcements such as the Facebook Wedge, a server-switch, and open network hypervisor architectures like that sold by my own company, Pluribus, help drive the industry in this direction.  Sunay Tripathi, our co-founder, also published a great blog that looks at the lawsuit from an SDN perspective.

Dave
dwx
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dwx,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/10/2014 | 7:46:15 PM
Re: Survival
If the Arista executives hadn't touted how much their CLI is exactly like Cisco's or copied Cisco's documentation word for word  it may have continued to fly under the radar.   

 
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/10/2014 | 7:09:16 PM
Survival
This is certainly an effort by Cisco to maintain survival mode. It usually uses mergers and acquistions for this, but legal wrangling is probably just as helpful. I don't agree with it, but this is what big companies do to protect their turf. That's the reality. 
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