When you think of Arista Networks, mid-market is not what comes to mind. Yet the provider of software-driven cloud networking solutions for enterprise environments has recently moved into the mid-market to address some of the challenges smaller companies face today.
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Mid-Market Has Big Market Network and Security Requirements
According to a June survey conducted by Arista with its channel partners, 33 percent of organizations with fewer than 500 employees are globally dispersed across 50 or more locations. The data includes office workers as well as remote employees who are connecting to corporate apps from various networks that aren’t centrally controlled or secured.
Another statistic shows cyberattacks are widespread in the mid-market, with attacks increasing over the past 12 to 18 months. If a mid-market company falls victim to a ransomware attack, it’s less likely to recover compared to a large enterprise. Therefore, remote workers must be protected with the same level of security as those working in the office.
I recently met live with two Arista executives at their campus to discuss the vendor’s new comprehensive mid-market networking product. I interviewed Heather Paunet, Arista’s Director of Product Marketing, and Edward Chapman, VP of Business Development and Alliances, Media and Entertainment, and WiFi. Highlights of my ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.
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- Unlike large enterprises, mid-market companies have a limited IT staff and often lack resources for managing network infrastructure and cyberthreats. Arista has developed a solution called Cognitive Unified Edge (CUE), specifically to address those challenges in the mid-market. CUE allows network administrators to troubleshoot problems for all users—including those working remotely—and even identify issues before users experience them.
- CUE is the evolution of Arista’s “cognitive campus” vision, which involves using automation for provisioning, deployment, and configuration in the cloud. At the center of the cognitive campus is Cloud Vision, a tool that manages the edge of the infrastructure, where apps and devices connect to the network. Cloud Vision provides information about what’s happening at the edge through a power over ethernet (PoE) switch into the campus.
- The PoE switches have Autonomous Virtual Assist (AVA) sensors, which perform deep packet inspection of some or all packets of traffic forwarded by the switch. The sensors continuously monitor enterprise devices, users, and apps. For example, they can identify suspicious activity like a PC camera connecting to a foreign website.
- Together with Cloud Vision, Arista provides additional artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to identify complex network issues, whereas in the past this required a very skilled IT staff. AI is bringing a level of predictability to how things are running on the network and allows IT to be more proactive.
- CUE includes everything a business needs to get started with IT: router, switches, access points (APs), and threat management for securing the network. It’s effortless for network administrators to deploy, manage, and provision. CUE comes with new smaller form factor 710P Series switches, designed for the mid-market. The switches provide various power options and work with Arista’s most feature complete WiFi APs.
- Arista has different APs that work in all types of environments (indoor and outdoor). The vendor also launched Q-Series hardware, pre-provisioned with Arista’s next-gen firewall. The firewall provides web filtering, threat prevention, virus blocking, and more. Organizations deploying 710P can uplink to the Arista Q8 or Q12 security appliance for a more robust network firewall functionality.
- Automation tools are becoming increasingly important for organizations. With a distributed workforce, it’s impossible for administrators to be physically present at every location when connecting users to the network. That’s where zero touch provisioning comes into play. CUE is already pre-provisioned, so all administrators have to do is plug it into an Ethernet port. Arista has observed an uptick in this type of deployment model.
- Arista wants to make it easier for smaller companies with limited IT resources to deploy and manage its networking products. The vendor is working with channel partners on programs and training around CUE. Channel partners and managed service providers (MSPs) already have trusted relationships with mid-markets companies, which Arista aims to reach with CUE.
- Going forward, Arista will focus on adding functionality for analyzing the data in its Network Data Lake (NetDL). Having this vast repository of information can make network management simpler. Arista plans to deliver more services that take advantage of NetDL, combined with AI/ML, to proactively manage network infrastructure.