It seems 10 Gig Ethernet (Gig-E) technology has been the de facto standard in data centers for the better part of a decade now. Frankly, 10 Gig-E is still a lot of bandwidth and is fine for most businesses. However, it cannot cost-effectively meet the bandwidth requirements of next-generation cloud and web-scale environments. Sure, there's 40 Gig-E, but that's actually four 10 Gig-E "lanes" bonded together, so the cloud provider would likely have to install at least twice as many switches, along with all the cabling, space, power, and cooling required to meet the needs of today and the near future.
This is the primary driver behind the development of the 25 Gig-E standard. Compared to 10 Gig-E, 25 Gig-E provides 2.5-times the performance, making it much more cost-effective. Since the 25 Gigabits of bandwidth is provided in single lane, it provides much greater density and scale than 10 Gig-E. Also, deploying 25 Gig-E provides an easy upgrade path to 50 Gig-E (2 lanes) or even 100 Gig-E (4 lanes).
This week, Arista Networks, one of the leading cloud networking vendors, announced a new portfolio of data center switches that address the demand for 25/50/100 Gig-E switching. The family of Arista 7060X, 7260X, and 7320X files leaf and modular spline form factors, giving customers a tremendous amount of flexibility when building networks with speeds ranging from 1 Gig-E all the way up to 100 Gig-E.
Product details are as follows:
- 7060CX-32S: Offers multi-speed 10/25/40/50/100GbE on all 32 ports in a 1RU leaf switch along with flexible L2 and L3 features and wire-speed performance.
- 7260QX-64: 64 ports of 40GbE in a compact 2RU system with low latency and power per port of under 5W per port.
- 7260CX-64: Delivers a new standard for 100GbE port density within a fixed form factor chassis offering 64 line rate 100GbE interfaces in 2RU.
- 7320X-32C: Brings high-density 40/100GbE connectivity options to the 7320X series of modular switches with 32 ports of 100GbE for a total of 256 ports of 100GbE per system. Each port can support a choice of 100GbE, 40GbE, 2x50GbE, 4x 10GbE or 4x 25GbE.
- New 7050X fixed switch models are the 7050SX-72Q and 7050TX-72Q that offer a flexible combination of 48 10GbE ports with 6 QSFP+ 40GbE ports, which are both power-efficient and low-latency with support for wire-speed VXLAN routing.
While these new products are based on the Broadcom Tomahawk chip, these aren't "me too" white box switches as Arista's EOS operating system runs on these products. As an industry watcher, I've seen many vendors tout the value of their "software" but offer little in the way of differentiation. Arista has done a great job of adding more and more features to EOS that are tailored to building robust, cloud-scale networks. These include features like smart system upgrades, LANZ monitoring, VXLAN support, and hitless speed changes.
The last feature is a great example of a cloud-scale feature as it enables port speeds to be changed while the switch is still running. Typically, if an organization wanted to change the speed on a port, the entire switch would need to be rebooted. This would mean that every server connected to the switch would be unavailable for a period of time while the switch comes back up. Alternatively, each server could have dual NICs installed and dual homed to different switches, but that could effectively double the cost of the deployment.
As the volume of workloads and traffic continues to explode, it becomes important for cloud- and web-scale companies to build an extensible leaf-spine network capable of delivering terabits of capacity. Ethernet is a perfect technology for this as it now offers speeds of 1, 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100 Gigs. Arista's new family of switches enables its customers to take advantage of the new 25 Gig-E standard and build a network any way the customer chooses to.