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Arista's Virtual Switch Takes Aim At Cisco's Nexus 1000V

Arista Networks has integrated its vEOS software that runs their high speed switches with VMWares vShpere hypervisor. Using VMWare API's, vEOS manages VMWare's vNetwork virtual switch, allowing computing resources to be moved seamlessly from physical to virtual machines and from hypervisor to hypervisor. The network port personality, like ACL's, QoS, and configuration, travels with the VM regardless of MAC address changes. In addition, vEOS provides enhanced monitoring. vEOS enters open beta in October and Arista expects to go gold at the end of 2009.

vEOS supports upto 64 hosts, the limit VMWare has on their vNetwork. The license comes in two flavors. A free license provides monitoring and troubleshooting tools, while a flat fee license, list priced at $5000 for 64 hosts regardless of the number of CPU sockets, provides command and control functions.

The first thing to note about vEOS is that unlike Cisco's Nexus 1000v, vEOS doesn't replace VMWare's vNetwork switch. vEOS augments the virtual switch capabilities by automatically discovering virtual machines and switches in a VMWare domain, creating port profiles that travel with the VM during disaster recovery, fault tolerance, and VMotion moves. It also maintains segmentation and can write out port profiles to OVF files for VM migration.
The integration with vSphere and the port profile management greatly simplifies moves from physical to virtual, virtual to virtual, and even going from virtual to cloud services based on vShpere. Since vEOS is a virtual appliance that integrates with vSphere through VMWare's API, it should be deployable where vSphere is used.

Joe Hernick, a contributing editor to Information Week said, "For this flat fee, we get you more mobility, management, and monitoring functions, and the potential for more security functionality, beyond VMWare's vSwitch. Most organizations will be content with VMWare's vNetwork. Cisco shops will look at the Nexus 1000V. If you need more capabilities than what VMare provides, then look at Cisco and Arista."

The virtual switch market does seem to be heating up. Cisco and Arista are the only game in town. Citrix is open sourcing a virtual switch for XEN, Sun's Virtual Box, Linux Kernel Virtual Machines. Cisco and Arista's virtual switches don't compete with Citrix's Open vSwitch because they run on different hypervisors, but is bringing XEN, Virtual Box, and KVM networking on par with offerings found in VMWare.

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