Arista Networks is launching the 7500R line of switches today, initiating a new concept that the company calls the “Universal Spine” — an extra layer intended for hyperscale deployments.
It’s an extension of the leaf/spine architecture that Arista normally caters to. The universal spine is a higher-end system compared to the regular spine switch, and it’s meant to connect the data center to the outside world.
The 7500Rs differ in that they’re built for massive amounts of traffic, with the largest of them, the 7512R, capable of 432 100-Gb/s ports. Routing tables in the 7500R can handle 1 million routes — with a combination of the latest enhancements to Arista’s EOS software and a new technology called FlexRoute. The latter is needed because the Broadcom chips powering the routers don’t support full routing tables, says Martin Hull, Arista’s senior director of product management. (More on that in a bit.)
Core routers from companies such as Cisco, Juniper, and Nokia (formerly Alcatel-Lucent) could fit this role, but they run afoul of the streamlined nature of hyperscale deployments. Companies such as Facebook and Google don’t want all the features that are packed into routers, Hull says.
Arista has been selling to hyperscale players for some time. The company’s original marquee customer was Microsoft Azure, and Arista’s sales team has been putting emphasis on what CEO Jayshree Ullal calls the “cloud titans.”
“Large cloud service providers are becoming the majority of total shipments” of high-end equipment, Hull says.
The cloud titans also continue to design their own networking gear and software. The latest example is Microsoft‘s Software for Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC), which sounds as if it could be a replacement for Arista’s EOS. Arista’s stance on this has been that these developments tend to target niche situations, leaving plenty of room for vendors’ products in those networks.
The Jericho Connection
Arista’s gear has relied on off-the-shelf switching chips to date, and the 7500R series is no exception. Like the 7500E series, it’s built on a line of Broadcom switch fabrics called Jericho, a high-end design that came from the 2010 acquisition of Dune Networks.
In an interesting twist, Dune’s founders are joining Cisco through its acquisition of its latest startup, Leaba. Another way to view it is that Cisco has just hired the people responsible for the guts of Arista’s most sophisticated product.
Chassis for the 7504R and 7508R (small and medium sizes of 7500R) have already been shipping; linecards are due to begin shipping any day now, Hull says.
The 7512R is slated for general availability in the third quarter.