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Startup Of The Week: Arista Networks

Cloud computing promises simplicity in delivery, but it requires highly reliable networks built for on-demand access. Arista Networks targets this market with its line of 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches. It recently named Cisco veteran Jayshree Ullal as CEO, while co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim took on an expanded role as chairman and chief development officer.
--John Foley

Jayshree Ullal, CEO, Arista Networks

Ullal gets back to her "entrepreneurial roots"

HEADQUARTERS: Menlo Park, Calif.

PRODUCT: 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches and Arista EOS software

PRINCIPALS: Jayshree Ullal, president and CEO; Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder, chairman, and chief development officer

INVESTORS: Privately held

EARLY CUSTOMERS: BitGravity, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


Until a few weeks ago, Arista Networks was known by its original name, Arastra. About the time it changed its moniker, Arista trademarked the term "cloud networking," in reference to the network fabrics required to support data centers with 10,000 or more servers. Cloud networks must be self-healing and have latency measured in microseconds, says Ullal.


Arista makes a line of 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches, a software layer called the Extensible Operating System, or EOS, and transceivers and cables. Its 7100 series switches are available with 24 or 48 ports in a 1U design for rack installation, and they support Layers 2, 3, and 4 switching in the IP stack. Performance ranges to 960 Gbps and 720 million packets per second. EOS supports in-service software upgrades, configuration, and service provisioning across switches.


Co-founders include chief scientist David Cheriton, a Stanford University professor, and VP of software engineering Ken Duda. Both worked with Bechtolsheim at Granite Systems, acquired by Cisco.


With Ullal and Bechtolsheim (co-founder of Sun Microsystems and, until recently, its chief system architect) leading the management team and with Lawrence Livermore as a new customer, Arista takes a big step toward viability. Yet the networking market is crowded with established competitors, cloud computing is in the early stages, and Arista's platform is relatively new. Also, IT spending may be tightening. The startup's window of opportunity is open, but significant challenges remain.


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