Arista embraces routing


Arista Networks has taken its first direct step into WAN routing with new software, hardware and services, an enterprise-class system designed to link critical resources with core data-center and campus networks.

The package, called the Arista WAN Routing System ties together three new components—enterprise-class routing hardware, software for its CloudVision management platform called Pathfinder, and the ability to set up neutral peering points called Transit Hubs. This trio enables setting up carrier-neutral and cloud-adjacent facilities to provide self-healing and path-optimization links across core, aggregation, and cloud networking interconnects, according to Doug Gourlay, vice president and general manager of Arista’s Cloud Networking Software group in a blog about the new package.

The WAN Routing introduction is significant because it is Arista’s first official routing platform, said Brad Casemore, IDC’s research vice president, with its Datacenter and Multicloud Networks group.

“In the past, their L2/3 data-center switches were capable of and deployed for routing use cases, but they were principally data-center switches. Now Arista is expressly targeting an expansive range of routing use cases with an unambiguous routing platform,” Casemore said.

The WAN Routing package has a number of possible use cases. First, it can be set up as a traditional command line interface- (CLI) controlled environment or a more modernized cloud-based system called Dual Modality that can be more easily set-up, provisioned, and controlled by customers, Gourlay stated.

“Routed WAN networks, based on traditional federated routing protocols and usually manually configured via the CLI, are still the most predominant type of system in enterprise and carrier wide-area networks,” Gourlay stated.

The WAN Routing System modernizes WAN management and provisioning, aligning the operating model with visualization and orchestration across all network transport domains, Gourlay stated.

“This enables a profound shift from legacy CLI configuration to a model where configuration and traffic engineering are automatically generated, tested, and deployed, resulting in a self-healing network. Arista customers can therefore visualize the entire network, from the client to the campus, the cloud, and the data center,” Gourlay stated.

Arista WAN Routing can support SD-WAN.

The WAN Routing package can also be set up to underpin tieing together far flung SD-WAN environments.

“Traditional WAN and SD-WAN architectures are often monolithic solutions that do not extend visibility or operational consistency into the campus, data-center, and cloud environment,” Gourlay stated. “Many SD-WAN vendors developed highly proprietary technologies that locked clients into their systems and made troubleshooting difficult.”

“We took this feedback and client need to heart and developed an IP-based path-computation capability into CloudVision Pathfinder that enables automated provisioning, self-healing, dynamic pathing, and traffic engineering not only for critical sites back to aggregation systems but also between the core, aggregation, cloud, and transit hub environments,” Gourlay stated.  

The managed Path Computation Engine oversees all the routing systems within an enterprise and the network performance of all links, computing the best possible path for every application, an important consideration in SD-WAN.

By addressing SD-WAN use cases, WAN Routing puts Arista into competition in the SD-WAN space, Casemore noted. 

“Arista positions the platform’s features and functionalities beyond the parameters of SD-WAN and coverage of traditional enterprise routing use cases, but it does SD-WAN, too, and many customers will be inclined to use it for that purpose. SD-WAN functionality was a gap in the Arista portfolio, and they address it with the release of this platform.”

Transit Hub, which supports physical or virtual WAN routing systems, can bring WAN-based resources closer to core communications sites, Gourlay said. Artista has partnered with Equinix so Transit Hubs can be deployed on Equinix Network Edge and Bare Metal Cloud platforms via Arista CloudEOS software. CloudEOS is available on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Equinix.

“The Arista Transit Hub Architecture and the partnership with Equinix positions Arista for growth in hybrid and multicloud routing,” Casemore added.

New hardware for edge and aggregation points.

As for the hardware, Arista has rolled out the 5000 Series for WAN edge and aggregation points. The four-port Model 5310 and 16-port Model 5510 support a variety of 1/10/100GbE interfaces.

The 5300 WAN System is positioned for high-volume edge connectivity and transitioning WAN locations to multi-carrier, 5G, and high-speed internet connectivity with performance rates of up to 5Gbps of encrypted traffic, Arista stated. The 5500 can support up to 50Gbps of encrypted traffic and is aimed at data-center, campus, high-performance edg,e and physical Transit Hub architectures. Both boxes run on EOS, the vendor’s core operating system.

The Arista WAN Routing system, including hardware is in customer trials and general availability is expected in the summer of 2023.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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