Arista Tackles Cloud Networking

Mitch Wagner
11/5/2019

Young Arthur wasn't the first guy to try to pull the sword Excalibur from the stone. Similarly, Arista isn't the first company to try to solve the agility problem for networking in the cloud era.

The networking problem is ancient (by the standards with which time is measured in the cloud era). Developers can stand up cloud apps in minutes, but the corresponding networks take days, weeks or months to deploy. Cisco, VMware and other networking vendors have spit on their hands and dug in their heels to try to yank that particular sword from the stone. Now it's Arista's turn.

Arista today launched CloudEOS, a network operating system to deploy and operate virtual networks running in the cloud. CloudEOS supports private clouds, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure initially, and will support Google Cloud within weeks.

CloudEOS provides segmentation, telemetry, monitoring, provisioning and troubleshooting across the campus, data center and cloud, Arista says.

The software comprises two parts: CloudEOS Multi Cloud, a high-performance virtual machine providing cloud network connectivity, is designed to simplify operations and enable software-based provisioning through popular DevOps tools. And CloudEOS Cloud Native is an instance of EOS deployed using Kubernetes to provide a networking stack in cloud-native environments.


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For security, "CloudEOS automatically encrypts all traffic traversing public links and automatically exchanges and rotates IPSEC keys to ensure encrypted transport at the highest security levels," the company said in a statement.

CloudEOS is designed to simplify operations by providing the same experience on physical and virtual networks, so network operations teams can use the same tools to manage both, Arista says. Using declarative provisioning, operators can deploy the entire cloud network through common cloud tools, with elastic bandwidth and usage based billing through the top three public cloud providers.

Operators can provision private network segments and global virtual private clouds (VPCs), with real-time telemetry providing state streaming and visualization into CloudVision, Arista's network orchestration platform. On the compute side, CloudVision will handle buying instances on the user's behalf on Amazon, Azure and Google, on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Both VMware and Cisco are also pursuing strategies with similar goals to Arista's, extending their networking software to unify public and private clouds. VMware updated its NSX virtual networking software early this year, with a new version, NSX-T, supporting AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud, as well as embedding NSX-T in VMware's own products. At about the same time, Cisco introduced its "data center anywhere" strategy, bringing its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) virtualized networking to AWS and Azure, along with a new version of its CloudCenter software with added support for managing cloud costs. ACI is also available on Google Cloud.

Douglas Gourlay, Arista VP/GM cloud networking software, described VMware as a "good partner" for Arista, providing additional security to complement CloudEOS. As for Cisco, Gourlay says their multicloud products and services are a patchwork result of multiple acquisitions and business units operating independently. "We try to offer our client what we believe is a consistent experience and consistent operator model," Gourlay says.

What does CloudEOS mean for telcos, cable companies and other service providers? A couple of things, says Gourlay. On the service provider IT (SPIT) side of the house, SPs are, like any other enterprise, embracing multiple clouds for IT applications. "These are some of the largest IT organizations in the world," Gourlay says. CloudEOS intends to provide simplified networking to launch cloud applications faster.

On the network side, operators are facing an imperative to virtualize network services, using virtualized network functions (VNFs) and cloud network functions (CNFs) to achieve exactly the kind of agility -- from months to minutes -- that CloudEOS is designed to provide. Implementing the Arista software will allow carriers to bring new services online, quickly trial them with the customer and scale them up and down in real time, as opposed to bringing an entire infrastructure online before they even have time to do a market trial, Gourlay says.

Network virtualization such as Arista's CloudEOS complements application virtualization, such as VMware's vSphere and Red Hat's OpenShift platforms. Additionally, this week, a startup called Volterra launched out of stealth with an application virtualization platform designed to enable operators and enterprises to deploy applications and network services across multicloud environments.

The CloudEOS launch comes as Arista has been taking a beating from investors for days, as it warned Thursday of "sudden softening in Q4 with a specific cloud customer" comprising a big chunk of Arista's revenue. Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal strongly hinted that customer is Facebook, and Wall Street analysts took it as fact. Arista traded at $191.27 after hours Monday, down from $244.58 at market close Thursday.

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