Arista Integrates EOS With OpenStack in SDN Push

The networking vendor, which also is adding OpenFlow extensions to the OS, is looking to improve network programmability in cloud environments.

Arista Networks officials are integrating the company's network operating system with the open-source OpenStack cloud technology and bringing enhanced OpenFlow extensions to the OS, the latest steps in the vendor's efforts in software-defined networking.

The new capabilities are available in the latest release of Arista's Extensible Operating System (EOS) and address demands from businesses and service providers for greater network programmability and flexibility in public and private cloud computing environments, according to company officials. The improved networking capabilities in the cloud mean faster cloud provisioning, enabling IT workflows that normally take weeks to be done in seconds.

"Extending Arista EOS for connection to cloud orchestration platforms provides programmability for building agile, self-service cloud architectures," Tom Black, vice president of software-defined networking (SDN) engineering for Arista, said in a statement. "This has been core to Arista EOS development from its inception."

SDN is getting a lot of attention from enterprises and service providers alike. The technology promises to create more flexible, scalable and programmable networks by essentially taking network intelligence out of the hardware—such as switches and routers—and putting it into software-based controller platforms. The rush to SDN is coming, not only from established network vendors like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Juniper Networks and Dell, but also such startups as Big Switch Networks, Embrane and Plexxi. VMware, Oracle and others also are adding SDN capabilities through acquisitions to broaden their larger data center portfolios.

Arista officials have said that while decoupling the data and control planes (with a controller to communicate between the two) has been the basis for such SDN tools as the OpenFlow protocol, companies like theirs and VMware—which bought SDN pioneer Nicira last year—are expanding on the SDN promise with the increased capabilities within EOS, such as the API integration into the OpenStack open-source cloud platform.

"Our suite of APIs allows applications to better integrate with and drive network infrastructure," Arista President and CEO Jayshree Ullal said in a March 27 post on the company's blog. "Arista believes that SDN is about scaling the control and data plane with programmatic and open interfaces in a useful way—not about replacing existing network architectures and topologies."

Ullal said there doesn't need to be "a rigid separation of control plane from data plane. We enable a broad spectrum of data and control plane capabilities to bring flexibility for our customers. This includes programming the network with high-level programming languages, structured and machine-readable APIs and standards-based protocols as well as interoperability with controller-friendly networks."

Among the key SDN capabilities are the application programmatic interfaces (APIs) in EOS that enable the operating system to integrate with orchestration and provisioning tools and customer applications, according to company officials.

In addition, code contributed by Arista to the OpenStack Quantum project, an open-source effort to create network connectivity as a service, will enable unified physical and virtual network device configuration, they said. EOS also includes a native OpenStack provisioning capability that uses an API to connect the Quantum OVS plug-in to the operating system, as well as support for OpenFlow 1.0 for external controllers.

OpenFlow extensions also offer improved data plan programmability, according to Arista.

The new capabilities in EOS are available now.