HPE, Arista Networks Expand Data Center Partnership

HPE in November will start selling Arista switches as it looks to better compete with Cisco, Juniper and others in software-defined environments.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise is expanding its collaboration with Arista Networks by enabling customers and partners to buy Arista switches through HPE and by naming Arista as its preferred networking partner in software-defined infrastructure environments.

Antonio Neri, executive vice president and general manager of HPE's Enterprise Group, made the announcement this week at the vendor's Global Partner Conference. The tighter alliance with Arista builds on the partnership the two companies announced in July 2015 for jointly building a converged infrastructure reference architecture.

The expanded partnership will add to the networking gear that HPE can sell. The company already sells its FlexFabric portfolio into traditional data centers and its Altoline open white-box products made in conjunction with Accton Technology and sold to enterprises, web-scale companies and service providers. Having Arista's network switches on the menu will help HPE make greater inroads in the fast-growing software-defined data center (SDDC) space.

It also puts the company in a stronger position to better compete with such established networking vendors as Cisco Systems, Dell and Juniper Networks. HPE will begin selling Arista switches Nov. 7.

"HPE and Arista share a common vision around the need to deliver secure hybrid IT solutions and experiences built on industry-leading software-defined infrastructure—helping customers to operate their workloads with speed and agility to grow their business," Dominic Wilde, vice president and general manager of the Data Center Networking business unit within HPE's Data Center Infrastructure Group, wrote in a post on the company blog. "This partnership will provide our customers with best-of-breed networking solutions that are superior to legacy networking solutions and that are complementary" to other data center technologies HPE sells, including compute, storage, virtualization and cloud offerings.

HPE officials over the past year have been working to pare down the company's offerings to better focus on its core data center business. The biggest move was breaking Hewlett-Packard in two in November 2015 to create HPE for selling enterprise IT solutions and HP Inc., which focuses on PCs and printers. In the past couple of months, the company has spun out its services business and merged it with Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) and, more recently, shed its enterprise software business and merged it with Micro Focus.

However, it also has made acquisitions to bolster its enterprise IT efforts—including buying Aruba Networks last year to bring greater wireless networking capabilities into the fold, and this year acquiring supercomputer maker SGI to broaden its capabilities in the high-performance computing (HPC) space—and has also partnered with other tech vendors.

That includes Arista. The converged infrastructure reference architecture announced last year features Arista's programmable networking technology and Extensible Operating System (EOS) and sold HPE's converged architecture offerings, including server and storage products—such as the company's 3Par StoreServ offering—and its OneView management software.

The partnership with Arista gives HPE a larger play in the network virtualization space, which includes software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV). It also will give Arista another avenue for selling its equipment.

"Software-defined networking continues to gain market traction as an innovative architectural model capable of enabling automated provisioning, network virtualization, and network programmability for data centers at cloud-providers and enterprise networks," Wilde wrote. "Although SDN initially found favor in hyper-scale data centers and at large-scale cloud service providers, it is also winning adoption in a growing number of enterprise data centers across a broad range of vertical markets."