Arista Gets With the Programmability Program

EOS+ is designed to allow network operators to use off-the-shelf and custom EOS apps to make networks more flexible.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

December 10, 2014

5 Min Read
Arista Gets With the Programmability Program

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].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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