Arista Networks Inc. plans to release in the fourth quarter tools for building a consistent network fabric that...
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spans public and private clouds -- an approach that's significantly different from archrival Cisco's application-centric strategy to hybrid cloud management.
The new Arista technology includes a virtualized version of its EOS network operating system for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud, the company said Wednesday. At the same time, the company will launch an upgrade of Arista CloudVision, which will manage the cross-cloud switching fabric.
Companies can deploy the virtualized version of EOS, called vEOS, through the respective marketplaces of the cloud providers. Businesses running EOS in their data centers will be able to use the same set of tools for managing application traffic through vEOS.
The Arista CloudVision upgrade, which Arista will provide at no additional cost, will include a new set of tools, called Cloud Tracer, which delivers availability metrics for connections to public clouds and data centers. Tracer can also provide connection metrics for companies leasing data centers from colocation operator Equinix.
Arista CloudVision won't be the only option for managing the Arista cloud fabric, said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, based in Boulder, Colo. "The Ansible playbooks you've built for your EOS-based private cloud will be extensible to the vEOS networks you deploy in AWS, Azure, etc."
Cisco's different approach with CloudCenter
Arista's focus on managing the switching infrastructure below cloud-based applications is very different from Cisco's focus on the application layer. Cisco's cloud management software, called CloudCenter, abstracts the cloud platform's APIs into a single pool of networking resources that companies can deploy through a self-service portal.
Cisco's strategy is to help businesses move workloads and applications between their private clouds and the platforms of the public cloud providers. This strategy is heavily dependent on Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) software, which distributes and manages policies that govern network traffic.
Cisco has said it intends to make ACI available in public clouds, but hasn't said when. That architecture, however, is likely to be less flexible than Arista's strategy of providing a virtualized version of its OS, McGillicuddy said. "You need to be using ACI to derive value."
And that value won't be the same as in Arista, said Cliff Grossner, a senior research director at IHS Markit, based in London. "They're very different offerings to solve different problems."
Arista and Cisco have the same goals
Despite their technical differences, both vendors have the same goal, which is to provide a path for the increasing number of customers moving on-premises software to the cloud, said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC. For those customers, Arista and Cisco want to provide tools to extend the data center's operational efficiencies, network automation and policies for security and compliance.
"This is a trend you're going to see across the industry," Casemore said. "For these vendors, there's no ignoring the fact that their customers are going to want to use cloud services."
Indeed, the latest IDC numbers show the rate at which companies are moving to the cloud. Spending on servers, storage and Ethernet switches in cloud environments will rise 15% this year, while the amount spent on traditional IT infrastructure will decline 5%.
Meanwhile, Arista continues to grab market share from its larger rival. In the second quarter, Arista's share of the Ethernet switching market grew from 3.9% to 5.5% year over year, while Cisco's fell from 56.8% to 54.7%, according to IDC.
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