Software-Defined Cloud Networking Reflections

Jayshree Ullal

Every year I like to reflect upon my beginning of year predictions versus the actual outcomes. Once again that time has come, so lets take a walk down memory lane and see how I fared.

Prediction #1: The rise in server virtualization will drive network virtualization deployments.

Evaluation #1: Half true.

We began to see the early stages of network-wide virtualization. The transformational acquisition of Nicira by VMware and the VXLAN specification co-authored by Arista and VMware (also the specification written by Arista and Microsoft for NVGRE) were key turning points for network virtualization, but it cannot be implemented in isolation with controllers. Networks contain both physical and virtual infrastructure that need to be seamlessly integrated to realize the benefits of rapid provisioning and automation promised by network virtualization. Arista is taking an open, standards-based approach to transcend virtual and physical switches. We partner closely with VMware, Microsoft and the OpenStack community to enable controller and virtual switch-friendly solutions.

Prediction #2: “SDN” has become the buzzword in networking architectures and the hype is high!

Evaluation #2: So true and the hype is settling down.

The industry has created quite a stir about what Software-Defined Networking (SDN) means. OpenFlow has been a technology searching for real-world problems. To Arista and our customers, SDN can be summed up in one word – Programmability. We are working with partners Aruba, F5, PAN, SAP and Splunk, with the Dev Ops community represented by Chef, Puppet and Ansible and we make it easy to utilize Linux extensions to bring opex reductions via SDN rather than just for technology’s sake.

Prediction #3: The Cloud will change the way networking is deployed.

Evaluation #3: True.

The major cloud titans are all adopting cloud scale designs with leaf-spine architectures, and I believe that in 2014 smaller enterprise customers will be looking to “cloudify” the enterprise with Arista’s SplineTM single tier network. Our modern operating system, EOS, can work with multiple APIs, be they NETCONF, XMPP, CLIs, or specific application and management models so that customers can automate their data center operations. The disruption from legacy enterprises to private, public or hybrid clouds is well underway!

Prediction #4: 2013 is the year of 40GbE/100GbE Spines.

Evaluation #4: Half True.

The industry is witnessing an increased adoption of 10GbE in 2013 with 25% of the server workloads migrating to 10GbE. Arista has also pioneered the best density for 40GbE and 100GbE with embedded optics, offering the first triple speed 10/40/100GbE product for spine networks. What is clear is that oversubscribed three-tier 1GbE networks are in the past and that every enterprise needs a leaf-spine cloud network, be it 10, 40 or 100GbE.

Prediction #5: Application centric networks are the next marketing vision for the data center.

Evaluation #5: True. More vision than reality!

While some vendors are promoting new proprietary concepts like ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure), at Arista we believe this is more a marketing story than reality in 2013 or 2014.

Customers do not want to tune every application. Instead they want the opposite: a universal cloud network that can handle multiple applications – be they Hadoop, Big Data, VDI, HPC or high performance transactions. Application agnostic architectures with the right telemetry and opex reduction tools are Arista’s mantra, along with open solutions as opposed to vendor lock-in. This resonates with our customers and it’s what they’ve come to expect from us.

As we complete Arista’s sixth year of cloud networking, we are thankful and grateful to our employees, customers and shareholders for the incredible support and endorsement we have received at Arista. I look forward to more exciting outcomes in 2014.

Happy Holidays to my readers and well-wishers and do send me your comments at feedback@arista.com