Arista Targets Cisco With 7000X Switch Series For Data Center, Cloud Networks

Arista Networks Monday fired a shot across its bow at Cisco, unveiling a new family of switches it says delivers ten times the scale, throughput and power efficiency of Cisco's Catalyst 6500 Series Switches.

Arista's launch of its 7000X Series switches, which the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company dubbed the newest member of its "software-defined cloud network," also comes just two days before Cisco is set to take the wraps off its SDN spin-in Insieme Networks and new application-centric infrastructure.

Arista's new 7000X series includes the 7300X and 7250X, both of which run Arista's EOS operating system. According to Arista, the new 7000X series complements what Arista calls its "leaf-spine" network designs, or two-tiered architectures through which "spine" switches forward traffic along the most optimal paths between Layer 2 or Layer 3 nodes while "leaf" switches control the flow of traffic between servers.

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Arista already has product lines that support both leaf and spine functions, but the new 7000X Series will allow customers to collapse these functions into a single-tier network design -- or "spline," as Arista calls it.

"Today, Arista is pleased to announce a new [switching] category that truly brings not just a two-tiered leaf-spine architecture, but a single-tier spline that collapses and brings together simplicity, price performance and power compactness all in a single chassis or a [two rack unit] footprint," said Jayshree Ullal, president and CEO of Arista Networks, speaking at a webinar Monday announcing 7000X.

This single-tier cloud network, according to the company, allows customers to simplify cabling, consolidate their services, boost the performance of cloud applications and slash their operating and capital asset costs by as much as 40 percent. The new 7000X Series spline switches can scale to support up to 2,000 servers in a single environment.

Arista referred to the new 7300X Series -- which is comprised of the 4-slot 7304, 8-slot 7308 and 16-slot 7316, as a "compelling alternative" to Cisco's Catalyst 6500 switch line. Arista said a pair of 7300 series switches, with latency under 2 microseconds, can replace two Catalyst 6509Es to deliver more than 10 times the scale, throughput, latency improvements and power efficiency.

Cisco declined CRN's request for comment.

It's not, however, the first time Cisco and Arista have gone head-to-head in the low-latency switching market. Low-latency switches, which Arista considers its specialty, refer to systems that can pass data between data center servers at the highest available speeds.

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Last year, Cisco expanded its lineup of low-latency switches with the launch of its Nexus 3548. David Yen, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Data Center Group, told the Wall Street Journal at the time that the Nexus 3548 was designed to "give Arista a very, very significant challenge."

Arista said all three chassis configurations in the 7300X lineup share a common architecture that scales up to 512 ports of 40GbE or 2,048 ports of 10GbE. The Arista 7250X Series, meanwhile, delivers 64 ports of 40GbE or up to 256 ports of 10GbE in a two-rack unit fixed form factor.

At the heart of both new switch families are Arista's EOS operating system. EOS, as Arista sees it, is the industry's only network operating system that was built from day one with cloud networks and next-generation data centers in mind.

"Arista EOS is the only operating system for the cloud and data centers that has truly been built ground up for purpose-built cloud networking," Arista Networks' Ullal said.

Arista said other highlights of the software include zero-touch provisioning, smart system upgrade capabilities and OpenWorkload to integrate with the orchestration, virtualization and provisioning tools in OpenStack, Microsoft System Center or VMware NSX.

Other vendors including Aruba, F5, Riverbed, SAP, Splunk and Palo Alto Networks support Arista's 7000X platform and EOS.

Arista said the 7250X is available now and shipping for $1,500 per 40GbE port, whereas the 7300X Series will be available in first quarter 2014 from $500 per 10GbE port.