Since cEOS can execute as just another container, customers will be able to run other containerized applications on the same platform, such as automation or monitoring tools.
cEOS specifically supports Microsoft’s Software Open Networking in the Cloud (SONiC) program. In fact, Arista timed the introduction of cEOS to be coincident with other news about SONiC. Microsoft, Qualcomm, Cavium, Mellanox, and Centec coordinated announcements about servers and switches that will all work with each other within the SONiC open networking environment.
Arista said the containerized packaging of EOS software and its agents when deployed in the cloud will be identical to the EOS software image that runs on all Arista products. In other words, Arista is pledging that EOS and cEOS will behave consistently with each other.
By unbundling its software from dedicated hardware in order to participate in open cloud environments, Arista is walking the same tightrope every other company in the same situation has to negotiate. Will the potential opportunities for software in an open environment exceed the possible loss of hardware revenue?
“On the one hand, cEOS could derive incremental high margin software revenues on white box switches,” wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski in a research note. “However, this could also act as a catalyst to drive customers’ migration to white box switches (removing a potential hurdle), putting pressure on the topline.”
Why venture out on that tightrope?
Jankowski said that Arista developed cEOS at the request of customers who had previously made a shift to white box switches and were looking for software to run on top of that platform. She inferred that one of those customers is Facebook. “We view this as indicative of Arista potentially regaining some ground with Facebook, which has been aggressively trying to move to white box hardware through its Open Compute Project (OCP),” she said in her note.
Arista also needs to cater to its big customer Microsoft.
“We are pleased that Arista’s containerized EOS BGP [border gateway protocol] offering is running on top of SONiC, bolstering our community development efforts in open networking,” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Azure Networking, in a statement.
Arista cEOS is available now for customer trials on selected third-party hardware platforms.