It’s not a new release of EOS, per se, but Arista Networks is taking a moment today to outline enhancements it’s been making to the switch operating system, including groundwork laid for Docker containers and the hybrid cloud.
The company is also extending SysDB, EOS’s centralized database of network state, to make it more appealing in the contexts of cloud deployments and even Internet routing.
SysDB Adds NetDB
Arista is using the collective name NetDB to refer to features that have recently been added to SysDB, the most crucial one being the ability to stream information about network state, so that listening devices can monitor the network in real time.
SysDB is a centralized point that stores state — that is, transient information in Arista switches’ memory. Counters (software that’s literally counting how many times an event has happened) and temperature are two simple examples of state information.
The switches tap this information to learn each other’s state. So does CloudVision, the orchestration platform announced in June. Through APIs, other processes such as the spanning tree protocol can access information in SysDB as well.
With NetDB, Arista has added the ability to stream state information in real time to appliances or applications. It’s a type of network monitoring that’s more thorough than the usual methods that rely on frequent network polling, says Jeff Raymond, Arista’s vice president of EOS products and services.
On top of that, NetDB can stream the information into a Hadoop database, creating a historical record of network state. That can be useful for forensic analysis after something’s gone wrong. Arista intends to write applications that would take advantage of this; they aren’t really part of today’s announcements, and there’s no timetable announced for their arrival.
Arista Gets Into Internet Peering
Another item that counts as “NetDB” is a bigger table size for EOS. Arista’s spine switches can now handle 1 million routes and 100,000 tunnels — enough to work in contexts of Internet routing and large-scale clouds. (Recall that EOS’s first release didn’t include routing at all, let alone tables of this size.)
“Customers are starting to use our platforms in this Internet peering kind of role,” Raymond says. “They realize they might not need the kind of feature-heavy Internet router they might have bought before.”
Watching the Hybrid Cloud
In the interest of sweetening EOS for multicloud deployments, Arista has introduced monitoring tools called Tracers. They watch for certain events and for performance issues, and they can move a workload to another cloud if necessary. Tracers will work with applications from other vendors — VMTurbo is one cited by Arista — to decide on optimal placement.
Arista plans to use Tracers to provide public cloud telemetry — monitoring for data that’s in places such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) that don’t run Arista switches. Raymond didn’t specify a schedule for releasing this.
Can’t Leave Out Docker
Because EOS is based on Linux, it’s hardly a stretch to say it can support Linux containers. (EOS has also supported virtual machines, using the KVM hypervisor.) But Arista did want to say, confidently, that Docker containers can run on EOS. So the company teamed up with Docker Inc. to run testing on all the necessary interfaces, just to be sure EOS was truly in shape to accommodate Docker containers.
“There’s been work, but it’s not as deep as if we wrote a container app ourselves,” Raymond says.
Arista does have one bit of new technology to brag about: The abovementioned Tracers can be used to keep an eye on containers. That means network operators can see which workloads are running in which containers.
The Arista-Docker partnership also includes some work on the networking front, Raymond says, although he declined to elaborate. Docker Inc. has developed its own take on container networking, developed by the staff that was acquired with Socketplane last year.