Arista's New vEOS Providing Competition for the Cisco Nexus 1000V

Competition is a Good Thing!

I wrote a (incendiary?) blog a few weeks ago about using vendor competition in your network to save money. But, to make this work, you first need to have viable vendors to compete. Cisco has not had a viable competitor to its Nexus 1000V switch since its introduction last year. Start-up Arista Networks, with a few ex-Cisco people on their team, is now ready to compete with vEOS - Virtualized Extensible Operating System. New Arista VP Doug Gourlay took some time with me earlier this week to go over vEOS and I was impressed. vEOS is simply a virtual version of Arista's EOS software which runs their line of 10Gbe switches. vEOS runs as just another VM inside your VMware environment, just as Cisco's Nexus 1000V's Virtual Supervisor Module (VSM) does. However, vEOS has a major difference from 1000V. vEOS does not replace VMware's virtual software switch as the 1000V does with Virtual Ethernet Modules (VEMs). vEOS simply provides a better management and configuration environment for the VMware vDS (virtual distributed switch). Currently, management of the VMware virtual switch has been left to server admins since access to vCenter was required. Then Cisco came along with 1000V and replaced all network components, including the VMware virtual switch software itself. But why add extra software if it's not needed? Thus, vEOS leaves the virtual switch in place and allows VMware to naturally enhance and tie the vSwitch capabilities to ESX. vEOS simply provides network engineers a common CLI (that means Cisco IOS CLI if you were wondering) access to the vSwitch. A single instance of vEOS can manage 64 ESX hosts and provides almost all the features 1000V does (and a few 1000V doesn't). Plus, vEOS is setup to provide easy migration of network attributes to cloud computing via VMware's OVF architecture. With OVF and vEOS, a VM could be moved to a cloud with all its network configurations intact. With this architecture in mind, vEOS provides a few other nice features. First, and definitely on my Christmas list each year, is EOS (and thus, vEOS) is a single binary image. One file to do it all. No feature sets or versioning or T-train. Simple. Second, EOS is built on an open Linux platform so it is, by its own name, extensible. You can run native Linux apps right in vEOS. Snort, DNS, DHCP, tftp, MRTG, etc. Nice extra feature to add. What Cisco has attempted to do with Application Extension Platform and extra hardware comes native in EOS. vEOS also implements object-oriented port profiles. Essentially, you configure a port template and then apply that template to individual ports. vEOS moves the port profile as VM's move around the VMware cluster (Vmotion, DRS, etc) maintaining network configuration, security, and accounting data. But, the best feature of vEOS may be its price. vEOS comes in two easy prices. First, the license for monitoring and management of 64 ESX hosts is $0.00. Right, free! So, if you are satisfied with vCenter for configuration, but want your network engineers to have a Cisco CLI view of the virtual network, you can just download vEOS and use it. Nice! If you want to also use vEOS for configuring the virtual switches, the cost is $5000 for a 64-node license. According to Arista, this is significantly cheaper than Nexus 1000V (I'll leave that to the marketing experts to fight out). Still, seems like a heck of deal to me. Being able to manage and configure 64 ESX virtual switches for only $5,000 would be a simple, quick investment. The beta for vEOS starts soon and Arista is looking for participants. As I wrote last year, I am very impressed by the Nexus 1000V. But, at this point, I am also impressed with vEOS. Arista is positioning its technology slightly differently, with a simple software model, and aggressive pricing. Let the competition begin!

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How to Save Some $$$s - Keep Competition in Your Network

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