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Founded: October 2004
Location: Menlo Park, Calif.
What it offers: The Arista 7148SX, a high-density, 10 Gigabit Ethernet data-center switch with a customizable network operating system. (Get results of our 10Gbps access switches.)
Why we're watching it: Arista is as notable for its people as for its technology. Andy Bechtolsheim, Sun co-founder and former chief architect, co-founded Arista and serves as the company's chief development officer. Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal most recently ran Cisco's $10 billion Data Center, Switching and Services Group - experience that could prove crucial as Arista (formerly known as Arastra) challenges Cisco for switching supremacy. Arista will try to lure customers with blazing-fast switches that pack 48 10Gig Ethernet ports into one rack unit for a relatively inexpensive $400 per port. Arista's founders expect such products as the company's switches to become more important over the next year with the development of next-generation servers capable of taking full advantage of 10Gig Ethernet speed and new applications requiring greater bandwidth and lower latency. (He continues his relationship with Sun in a part-time advisory role.)
How the company got its start: The founders saw a need for high-density, cost-effective 10Gig Ethernet products that could provide such benefits as improved network performance and lower latency.
How the company got its name: Arista is from the Greek word meaning "the best."
CEO: Ullal left Cisco in May 2008 after 15 years at the company. An industry icon, she was named one of Network World's 50 most powerful people in 2005.
Funding: Undisclosed amount from Bechtolsheim and David Cheriton, a Stanford University professor of computer science and electrical engineering who is widely known in networking and distributed systems.
Who uses its product: Customers include BitGravity, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Northwestern University.