Arista Brings Cognitive Networking to Enterprise

NEW PRODUCT DETAIL: Arista, best known as a data center networking vendor, is bringing its advanced capabilities to the campus edge.


Arista Networks has taken the cover off its Cognitive Networking for the wired and wireless campus edge. Arista, started by Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, quickly rose to prominence a little over a decade ago on the strength of its strong data center and cloud networking products. Trends like distributed applications, cloud connectivity and a rise in east-west traffic shot complexity up.

For the record, east-west traffic refers to data traffic within a data center, such as server-to-server traffic. North-south traffic is client-to-server traffic, data that travels between the data center and the rest of the network, or anything outside the data center.

Arista took a radical approach to the data center by flattening the layers and shifting the value from hardware to software. The company has many products built on a wide range of silicon but has a single operating system to make network operations.

MoJo gave Arista a running start at the campus edge

Last year, Arista stepped out of its comfort zone of the data center and acquired WiFi vendor MoJo Networks, giving it an edge campus networking play. In actuality, Arista had entered the broader campus market a few months earlier with the launch of its campus core products, but MoJo pushed its presence to the edge. One could argue the campus core is an extension of the data center, because it’s only one step removed, so the feature set of those products is aligned with the data center.

Arista unveils new wired and wireless campus edge products

At this week’s event, Arista announced some new products that extend Arista’s reach to the wired and wireless edge. Details of the products include:

  • WiFi 6 access points (APs): The C-250 APs include all the standards-based features of the new wireless standard, including 8x8 MU-MIMO and OFDMA. The APs include a 2x2 dual band 3rd radio that provides a continuous telemetry stream that can be used for manageability. WiFi troubleshooting remains a huge headache for companies, and Arista applies machine learning to the data to find insights in the data that couldn’t be found through manual analytics. Arista’s CloudVision management tool shows information such as WiFi client journey, network health, connectivity information, analytics and proactive remediation to ensure that the wireless experience is always high quality.
  • Campus leaf switches: Arista’s campus architecture is the same leaf/spine (or spline as Arista calls it) design as found in the data center. The campus core products introduced in 2018 act as the spine and this week it announced its first campus leaf switches. The 720XP series come in four fixed configuration models and include features such as multi-gig access (2.5 GB and 5 GB) and up to 60 Watt PoE. They also offer a choice of uplink speeds, including 25, 40 and 100 GB).

New Cognitive Network features added to CloudVision

The 720XP Series run Arista’s EOS operating system and can be managed through CloudVision. As part of the launch, Arista introduced a number of new features into the portal including:

  • Device Analyzer to inventory all endpoints. Uses deep flow analysis to monitor performance and proactively find security threats.
  • Cloud-like operations, including workflows to automate change controls and reduce maintenance windows.
  • Network access control integration via standard RADIUS solutions as well as a standards-based group-based segmentation approach with VXLAN and EVPN
  • Wireless mobility and roaming, leveraging integrated VXLAN tunnel termination instead of legacy controller-based options.
  • Expanded device support to manage PoE usage through CloudVision’s dashboards.
  • End-to-end Troubleshooting and visibility in a single tool by leveraging CloudVision’s network-wide database

Arista’s move to the campus edge does raise the question of whether businesses should care. The company spent years mastering the data center. Does that translate to the edge? A decade ago, I would have said it doesn’t, but times have changed.

Years ago, the further the network equipment was away from the data center, the less time and attention was spent doing due diligence. This made sense, because most users had their data and applications on their computers, and the network was for updating information.

The new 720XP Series switches, the C-250 WiFi 6 APs and the new CloudVision capabilities are in field trials and will be generally available in calendar Q3 for 2019.

On a related note, earlier this week Arista announced a hybrid cloud offering where EOS is integrated into Microsoft’s Azure and Azure Stack. The solution inserts EOS operating system as a transit gateway at the virtual network edge for multi-cloud networking. This creates consistent connectivity and networking between the on-premises and cloud resources. The integration also extends network segments to edge location using Azure’s virtual WAN features.

Hybrid clouds will likely be the norm for most organizations, and the Arista-Microsoft partnership masks much of the complexity in creating seamless connectivity between the private and public environments.

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He spent 10 years at Yankee Group and prior to that held a number of corporate IT positions.