Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the four founders of Sun Microsystems and the chief architect of the company’s hardware systems for the better part of a generation, said Oct. 23 he is joining Arista Networks, a startup in the cloud computing space.
Bechtolsheim will become chairman and chief development officer of the startup, which has about 50 employees. Arista Networks is based in Menlo Park, Calif. Also on Oct. 23, Arista Networks named former Cisco Systems Vice President Jayshree Ullal, a 25-year industry veteran, as its president and chief executive.
Bechtolsheim, a Stanford University engineering graduate, co-founded Sun in 1982 along with Scott McNealy, Vinod Khosla and Bill Joy.
Bechtolsheim, however, is not leaving Sun completely. He will move to part-time status as chief architect and senior vice president of Sun’s Systems Group, Sun spokesperson Alex Plant said.
Plant told eWEEK that Bechtolsheim will remain with Sun to continue to create new product architectures, including X64 servers and storage servers, and will continue to work on key strategic initiatives, such as high-performance computing.
“I am very proud of all the accomplishments we have achieved as a systems team, including the Sun Fire X4000 family of X64 servers, the Sun Constellation System, the Sun Fire storage servers and Flash Storage, and Sun Datacenter Switch 3×24, and I look forward to many more over the coming years,” Bechtolsheim said in a company-released statement.
Arista makes 10GB Ethernet switches for data centers that the company claims are priced at one-tenth the cost of those made by its leading competitor, the world’s largest networking infrastructure provider, Cisco Systems. Bechtolsheim worked at Cisco Systems for seven years in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Arista’s Extensible Operating System, a pioneering new software architecture with self-healing and live in-service software upgrade capabilities, is the company’s core intellectual property.
Bechtolsheim was one of the first two financial backers of Google, investing $100,000 in 1998. Bechtolsheim reportedly wrote the check to “Google Inc.” prior to the company even being founded.
In fact, the story goes, when Bechtolsheim gave the check to Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders, they did not yet even have a checking account into which the check could be deposited.
This is the second time Bechtolsheim has left Sun to go elsewhere. He returned to Sun in 2006 to help develop the company’s new storage server array, namely the Sun Fire X4500 “Thumper,” which is among Sun’s best-selling storage machines.
The Thumper storage server, an NAS (network-attached storage) product package that includes Galaxy servers powered by AMD Opterons and StorageTek backup, is causing most of the buzz in the company’s storage business. One 19-inch-wide, 7.5-inch-deep Thumper server contains 48 hot-swappable disk drives totaling as much as 24TB of storage.
The system of switches, servers and storage-designed by Bechtolsheim-is aimed at the three main providers of video-on-demand content: telecommunications companies, large cable television providers and smaller cable companies.