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Arista makes a platform play with EOS+

The fast-growing networking company adapts its platform for software defined networking.

I think it’s fair to say Arista has been one of the fastest-growing network product companies over the past few years. However, it appears the company wants to be more than a manufacturer of high-performance networking devices and is trying to make the shift to a platform company.

Last week, Arista announced EOS+, a set of building blocks that turn the company’s operating system, EOS, into a platform for SDNs at cloud scale or, as Arista calls it, the “software-driven cloud network.” The platform strategy capitalizes on the fact that EOS is a highly programmable operating system.

There are four main components to the EOS+ platform:

  • Software development kit. I actually thought Arista had an SDK for EOS already, but apparently much of the development to this point has been done ad hoc. A formal SDK brings structure to the efforts of Arista to date. By using the SDK, companies can build their own applications that use network information. Examples of this would be event monitoring, congestion, or link failure mediation and security services. The SDK also provides access to SysDB, a database that contains all state, variable, and other information for network processes. I’ve talked to some Arista customers that look at the SysDB database as the single best feature of EOS.
  • Virtual EOS (vEOS). As the name suggests, this is a virtualized version of the EOS operating system. I wouldn’t imagine that this will get used for production use cases, but I do think network managers can use vEOS to become familiar with some of the advanced features of EOS, test third-party tools, try new configurations, and do testing without having to purchase hardware. With the proper processes, vEOS could be used to test and certify every deployment and subsequent network change.
  • EOS-based applications. This should be an obvious component of the EOS+ platform since the goal of any platform is to enable applications. A number of third-party vendors already interoperate with EOS, such as Aruba, Puppet, VMware and F5. However, now other custom applications can be part of the Arista ecosystem. At launch, Arista included a Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) server to enable dynamic and automated network configuration. Another example is a network telemetry application built with a partner, Splunk.
  • Consulting services. The Arista consulting services certainly aren’t designed to compete with IBM Global Services or even something like Cisco Consulting Services. However, Arista does have about a dozen consultants to help customers develop customized solutions that leverage EOS+. The “low-hanging fruit” for the consulting business would be building out cloud-scale networks, integration of Arista technology with third parties, or network automation.

The release of EOS+ is important to the future growth of Arista as it opens the door for the company to sell into the DevOps groups as well as NetOps. Arista’s ideal target customer for EOS+ is one that has already brought the DevOps and NetOps teams together. Over time, it seems the shift from NetOps to DevOps is inevitable as the industry moves from a hardware-dominated one to software. The lessons and practices Arista will learn now with the release of the EOS+ platform should pay big dividends in the future as the transition happens.

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