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Arista wires software-defined networking into its kit

Joins rest of industry in collective hypegasm

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Network speed-freak Arista Networks has woven software-defined networking technologies into its operating system.

The company announced on Thursday that it had integrated SDN support via OpenStack Quantum and the OpenFlow protocol into key parts of its network software, the Arista Extensible Operating System.

The move sees the company join networking peers Brocade, Juniper, and Cisco in supporting the technologies that many are considering to be fundamental to software-defined networking.

OpenFlow is a protocol developed by academics to help them split apart the data and control planes of network hardware. Quantum is the networking stack of open source cloud control freak OpenStack, and allows for a broad range of management capabilities of virtualized networks.

By splitting functions away from bits of networking hardware, SDN lets admins define what virtual servers or applications need from the network, and then delivers it to them.

Although the two technologies have different purposes and uses, Arista thinks that they're two great tastes that taste great together – as does much of the rest of the networking industry.

As part of its widespread SDN adoption, Arista has introduced support for OpenFlow within its EOS system, and added in API support for Quantum. It has added a modular driver architecture in the Quantum OVS plug-in, and has also contributed code into Quantum to make it easier to configure physical and virtual network devices.

All told, the advancements mean Arista customers can "have the programmable network capabilities that are necessary to operate a Software Defined Network," the company wrote in a statement.

This brings it up to speed with Cisco, Brocade, and Juniper, which have all made various inroads into SDN – Brocade has broad OpenFlow adoption but scant OpenStack support, Juniper's Junos software can talk to Quantum and the company has demonstrated OpenFlow support on some of its platforms, while Cisco has a broad and deep commitment to both OpenFlow and OpenStack.

All four companies are somewhat behind pure-SDN companies such as Nicira, Midokura, and Big Switch Networks, which have pioneered the software systems used to manage and virtualize networks.

Though the SDN technology looks set to be useful, as it can theoretically do to networks roughly what virtualization has made possible with storage and compute, it is also suffering from a hypegasm as intense as that which is gripping cloud and big data. ®

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