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Bechtolsheim 'leaves' Sun for switches start-up

Flashes 10 gigabit kit in Cisco's face

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Sun Microsystems cofounder Andreas von Bechtolsheim is reining back his role as chief architect at the firm to concentrate on what has up to now been his pet project – Arista Networks.

Bechtolsheim is reportedly looking to focus more on the Silicon Valley start-up that hopes to rival network giant Cisco Systems with its technology.

Arista sells a line of switches that can transfer data at very fast speeds from servers that run websites and computing centres, at a fraction of the cost of similar products from Cisco and other vendors in the network game.

The four-year-old firm was also given a name makeover this week – Arista was previously known as Arastra. Its 10 gigabit ethernet kit has already been taken on by various US government labs, internet data centres, universities and start-ups.

The firm said Bechtolsheim, who founded and funded the company, will become chief development officer and chairman, while Jayshree Ullal is the newly appointed president and CEO.

Many in Silicon Valley will see her arrival at the firm as a significant coup d'état for Arista, since Ullal previously worked at Cisco as a senior veep.

Bechtolsheim has also cut his switches teeth at Cisco where he was vice president and general manager of the gigabit systems biz unit from 1996 to 2003.

“The new era of cloud computing requires fundamental improvements in capacity, latency, and cost-performance over existing enterprise network solutions,” he said in a company statement.

“Arista is developing highly scalable, reliable and cost-effective cloud networking solutions for large-scale web and enterprise datacenters to address these requirements.”

Meanwhile, a Tennessee investment firm has bought a big stake in Sun following a dramatic drop in its share price.

Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management has spent more than $2.1bn on Sun shares since May this year, fuelling speculation about the tech giant’s future.

The company said in a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing yesterday that its stake has grown to 160 million shares, or about 21.2 per cent of Sun. ®

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