Arista teams with VMware, Big Switch, Nebula for SDNs

Data center switch vendor Arista Networks next week will demonstrate how to build a software-defined cloud network using its switches, and controllers from partners VMware, Big Switch and Nebula.

At the Interop conference in Las Vegas, Arista will show that there’s more than one way to skin the SDN cat. Even though OpenFlow gets most of the attention — and really ignited the recent discussion around SDNs and its impact on networking — there are several existing alternatives that enable network programmability today.

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Arista will argue that those alternatives, along with OpenFlow, can be supported in its Extensible Operating System (EOS) on its switches. EOS has inherent programmability, Arista says, making it “SDN ready” for applications such as real- time cloud computing, multi-tenant mobility and virtual machine migration.

SDNs allow administrators to program a network infrastructure through software by abstracting the physical hardware — routers and switches — from the network control plane. This allows administrators to program where traffic is forwarded without touching the physical hardware itself, and add incremental functionality through software extensions.

OpenFlow is a protocol and API that enables this though Arista and other vendors note that there are other protocols and APIs that allow for it too, like those found in EOS. Cisco says its Nexus 1000v virtual switch, for example, is an example of a programmable network utility.

At Interop, Arista plans to show how administrators can autoprovision VMware virtualization software using a VMware vCloud SDN controller. Arista will also show integration with the Nebula controller through the OpenStack Nova APIs.

OpenStack is an open-source framework for a cloud computing operating system.

Arista plans to also demonstrate integration with Big Switch’s controller through OpenFlow. Ostensibly, all three of these controllers would be able to program Arista switches through three different APIs and protocols.

Arista has a four-legged strategy for cloud SDNs:

• Multi-path leaf-spine networking for scale, using EOS and Layer 2/3 standards like MLAG, ECMP and TRILL.

• Distributed cloud control with EOS features such as Zero-Touch Provisioning, Latency Analyzer and Advanced Event Management.

• Network-wide virtualization with discovery and segmentation of VMs, and VXLAN.

• Single point management using APIs like OpenFlow, OpenStack and those in Arista’s CloudVision software.

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