Since its inception, Arista has always touted the value of its software. While the company ships a tremendous amount of hardware, its competitive differentiator is the quality of its software. Initially it was its EOS operating system, but in 2015 it launched its network management software, CloudVision, which was available as an on-premises solution only. This week Arista announced CloudVision-as-a-service, which takes all the rich capabilities of the product and pushes it into the cloud.
Arista CloudVision modernizes network management
Arista developed CloudVision because it saw a gap in the many legacy network management tools. Most management products were developed well over a decade ago; many are three or four decades old. These products were designed to look at the network on a box-by-box basis, relied on manual configurations or complex rules and used outdated management techniques such as SNMP polling. These were sufficient when the network was considered “best effort,” but today, for most companies, the network is the business.
Legacy tools were designed to help network professionals understand when devices failed, but in today’s environment, networks are designed with so much resiliency, things rarely are actually down. This is why so often I hear from engineers whose management dashboards show everything is “green” but yet stuff isn’t working.
Instead of looking at the network box by box, or bottoms up, CloudVision takes a top-down view and sees the end-to-end network through the lens of the workflow instead of a single device. It also uses real time, streaming telemetry instead of pings, SNMP, packets or other protocols that are polled. While polling has been the de facto standard for decades, it often misses events that happen between polling intervals. Telemetry information is streamed in real time, enabling CloudVision to have full visibility into all events, no matter how small.
Another difference between CloudVision and legacy tools is that Arista designed its product to be multi-domain. When it was first launched in 2015, it was a data center management tool, but over time Arista expanded the capabilities to look at the enterprise campus, WiFi network and other domains. The use of siloed tools forces network engineers to try and correlate the data manually or using home grown tools, neither of which is optimal.
CloudVision-as-a-service brings the power of the cloud to network management
The evolution of CloudVision to an as-a-service model was about more than just making it easier to deploy. This certain is true, as customers can have immediate access to it versus deploying a server and tuning the software, CloudVision-as-a-service brings the following new capabilities:
- Visibility into clouds. CloudVision can now perform proactive trending across tenants for a “client-to-cloud” network assurance. Arista also has some pre-configured analytics for faster problem resolution and is working on machine learning based services for greater automation.
- Rapid deployment time. With a SaaS service, there is no appliance to deploy enabling customers to get up and running right away. The cloud also lets Arista push new features and functions to the cloud as soon as they are available, instead of requiring the customer to manually update the on-premises server.
- Zero touch provisioning as a service. Arista uses certificate-based customer identification to securely connect Arista devices to appropriate tenants in CloudVision. This enables a very simple, plug-and-play deployment model.
- Elastic scale. Cloud based CloudVision is deployed across numerous global availability zones. Because CloudVision is built on a cloud-native architecture, there are no resource constraints, so customers can pay for what they need today but easily scale up or down as required.
- Highly secure system. The on-premises version of CloudVision is only as secure as the customer makes it. With the cloud version, Arista takes care of the security. All data is encrypted at rest and in motion. There are also other security best practices put in place, including regular scans for compliance and then options for single sign-on and multi-factor authentication.
The cloud makes cross-company analytics possible
Another interesting future development is that Arista can capture metadata from across all its customers and do some level of cross-company analytics. This lets Arista make recommendations on how to tweak and tune the network. Customers will then be able to tap into the expertise of the entire Arista customer base and not just their own deployment. Over time, I suspect most management functions will move to the cloud, because it enables faster problem resolution, proactive monitoring and simplified deployments.
Arista’s CloudVision is currently in production for limited customers but will be generally available Q3 of 2020.
Zeus Kerravala is an eWEEK regular contributor and 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.