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New Arista switches enable single-tier 'Spline' network deployments

Gina Narcisi

Arista Networks Inc. announced its 7000 X Series of high-density 10 GbE and 40 GbE switches for larger leaf-and-spine network architecture. The 7000 X series will also enable Arista's concept of a single-tier "Spline" network.

The new, programmable Arista 7000 X line includes the modular Arista 7300X series and fixed-configuration 7250X series, both powered by Linux-based Arista EOS. In a single-tier Spline architecture, the new Arista switches will automate provisioning, simplify cabling, reduce latency and power consumption, and cut networking costs by up to 40%, said Martin Hull, senior product line manager for

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Arista Networks.

"There are some enterprise environments that don't necessarily need two-tier networking, but we now have the capability to collapse networking down to a single tier -- a Spline," Hull said. "We can have up to 1,000 to 2,000 servers directly connected into a pair of [redundant] switches in the middle or end of the row that eliminate the need for those physical links between two tiers of networking."

New Arista switches help 'flatten' the network for large and small deployments

The Arista 7300X series switch compliments the vendor's existing 7500E switch for large deployments, said Anshul Sadana, senior vice president of Arista Networks. The 7300X includes three chassis configurations -- the four-slot 7304X, the eight-slot 7308X and the 16-slot 7316X. The 7316X chassis can scale up to 512 ports of 40 Gigabit Ethernet or 2,048 ports of 10 GbE, with 40 terabits per second (Tbps) of throughput. It consumes less than 3 W of power per 10 GbE port, Arista said. Line-card modules for the Arista 7300X include 10GBASE-T, SFP and QSFP configurations.

The new 7250QX-64 switch has 64 ports of 40 GbE, or 256 10 GbE ports in a two-rack unit fixed form factor. The switch offers 5 Tbps of throughput and consumes less than 3.5 W per 10 GbE port, Arista said.

Both the 7300X and 7250X series can be used in a traditional leaf-and-spine architecture or in a Spline deployment model, Hull said. The 7000 X line comes equipped with front-to-rear and rear-to-front airflow patterns in order to enable middle-of-the-row Spline deployments.

Arista, which differentiates on its software capabilities -- such as greater automation and reduced power consumption -- rather than just its hardware switching technology, has based the 7000 X switch line on Broadcom's Trident II chip, said Brad Casemore, research director at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

"Using merchant silicon can help Arista and any other vendor lower costs and focus on further differentiation," he said.

Arista's 7000X switch line fills a gap for smaller, more consolidated deployment needs and will help the vendor compete head-on with Cisco's latest Nexus switches, including the company's forthcoming Insieme switches, said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group Inc.

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"Arista's high-performance, low-latency switches have good interconnect capabilities and really solid price points, which will help drive market prices down," he said.

In addition to smaller deployment use cases, Arista's single-tier Spline architecture -- which is designed to scale up to 2,000 servers, compared with two-tier leaf-and-spine deployments that can support up to 100,000 servers -- is also well suited for small clusters within a larger deployment, in which an enterprise may want to isolate a discreet application on its own dedicated network for security purposes, Hull said.

"The Spline architecture could be great for any deployment where [IT] needs to reduce the latency by reducing the number of hops," ESG's Laliberte said. "The collapsing of the spine and leaf is another way to flatten the network -- any size organization could take advantage of this approach."

Enterprise network architecture: Increased automation needed

Arista's EOS allows for automatic Zero Touch Provisioning within the 7000 X switch line, as well as integration with orchestration, virtualization and provisioning tools in OpenStack, Arista's Sadana said.

Arista also announced its control-plane publish-and-subscribe functionality for MAC address tables, which has been added to both its 7300X and 7500E switch lines, he said.

Through EOS, MAC address table changes are only published once to all line cards via a unified forwarding table, rather than having updates written individually into each line card's chip. MAC address changes won't tax control-plane utilization, Sadana said. "The CPU remains near flat, even as you go up to 16 line cards," he said.

"As enterprises adopt cloud, they are coming up against limitations of traditional network architectures, and some of the silos between IT groups are beginning to disappear, IDC's Casemore said. "Tools like publish-and-subscribe for automated configuration are also helping different constituencies with IT gain control."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.


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