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SN blogs: Is Arista making right move with campus switches?

Bloggers discuss Arista's new strategy to market campus switches, examine container security risks and ask the question of whether networking is a commodity.

Arista Networks said it's jumping into the campus market with a new line of campus switches and cloud-based analytics software. Greg Ferro at Packet Pushers said he's supportive of the move, but he was also quick to warn, "Don't rush." That said, there are a number of valid reasons Arista decided to expand from its data center roots, not the least of which is the sales opportunity fueled by the aging fleet of Cisco campus gear now in operation.

"The average age of Cisco's installed base of Cat 6000 series switches is eight years. 10 (sic) years is a psychological time to force upgrades," he wrote in a blog post. "Arista believes it has a good opportunity to go after that installed base."

Arista may find some additional challenges in its campus switches strategy, such as determining whether it's necessary to have a lower-cost alternative to the pricey Broadcom application-specific integrated circuits slated to power Arista's campus switches. But the Arista announcement is worth following, Ferro said.

Catch up with Ferro's other thoughts about Arista's campus switches.

Taking a long look at the future of networking

Is the enterprise network now just a commodity?

That's the intriguing question Russ White posed in a thoughtful examination of the role networking plays today. The answer is both yes and no, White said, and the reasons leading to each of these conclusions have merit.

If all that matters is getting packets from one place to another, then networks are a commodity, especially when viewed from a hardware perspective.

"There are a few mainline chip makers making chips you can purchase wrapped in sheet metal painted different colors, with few differentiating factors," he wrote. While software may appear to be a differentiator, open source options are becoming more viable, with customized approaches available, if necessary.

But networks are more than pipes and pieces of hardware, White said. "The point of a network is to carry information efficiently from point A to point B -- this much is correct. But the variety of information, the reliability with which it must be carried and the speed at which it must be carried, provides something much more than a mere commodity to the business with vision."

White had much more to say about the notion of a network as a commodity and what it means to network engineers.

Container security concerns grow

Container technologies continue to gain traction, with some forecasts predicting containers will make up a third of all hybrid cloud production workloads by 2020.

But like everything network-related, containers have a security problem, according to Jon Oltsik, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

For one thing, they sometimes require a separate framework, with 35% of cybersecurity professionals saying their organizations' current security software doesn't support containers, according to an ESG study. Perhaps more troubling: A third of ESG survey respondents said there is a lack of mature security tools available to safeguard containers. Oltsik said the concern might be misplaced, in that container security is dominated by startups and point tools. As these tools evolve, container security should strengthen.

"Like server virtualization and public cloud workloads of the past, containers remain an unfamiliar animal to many security professionals today, but this is unacceptable given the number of production containers deployed today (as well as aggressive future container deployment plans)," Oltsik wrote. "In cybersecurity, uncertainty and limited knowledge equal increased risk."

Check out Oltsik's additional thoughts on container security and some recommendations of what to do to protect workloads.

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In what ways are networks more than commodities?
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