A San Jose, California-based startup is competing with the big three switch players —Cisco, Arista, and Juniper Networks — by introducing a new independent hardware-agnostic operating system. Currently, Cisco, Arista, and Juniper offer switches that are tightly integrated with their own software.
Arrcus unveiled its ArcOS operating system this week that comes with standards-based APIs, but also features an intelligent data plane adaption layer (DPAL) that allows it to work closely with the underlying silicon.
The startup announced this week that it has received $15 million in Series A funding from General Catalyst and Clear Ventures, and it also revealed that it has a number of well-known advisors. Those advisors include Pankaj Patel, former EVP and chief development officer of Cisco; Amarjit Gill, an entrepreneur who founded and sold companies to Apple, Broadcom, Cisco, EMC, Facebook, Google, and Intel; Farzad Nazem, the former CTO of Yahoo; Randy Bush, the founder of Verio; and Fred Baker, a former Cisco Fellow, IETF chair and co-chair of the IPv6 Working Group; Nancy Lee, ex-VP of people at Google; and Shawn Zandi, director of network engineering at LinkedIn.
According to Arrcus CEO Devesh Garg, these advisors were needed to help the company really turn the table on the existing way of deploying switches and unraveling the hardware from the software. “We felt that we could do something at scale and much bigger than what was currently being done,” he said. “We needed people who understood the market and what we are trying to do.”
One of the limitations of existing operating systems is that they are constrained by legacy software necessary to support the older hardware. “We see innovation at the chip level and the component level,” Garg said. “But no one was bringing that together with the software.”
Besides the DPAL, ArcOS uses standards-based OpenConfig/YANG programmable APIs, a hyper-performance, resilient control plane, and a data-model driven telemetry.
The ArcOS is supported on Broadcom’s StrataDNX Jerico+ and StrataXGS Trident 3 silicon platforms, which Garg said makes it the first independent OS to be available on the Broadcom platforms.
Timing is Everything
Garg pointed to recent reports that Amazon’s AWS branch may be considering selling white box switches to enterprise customers, as evidence that the time is right for white box switches and independent operating systems. “This just shows some of the constraints and limitations of the market,” Garg said.
But what about AT&T’s white box initiative that it announced earlier this year? The service provider said that it planned to install more than 60,000 open-source white boxes across its network as part of a “radical realignment” of its network architecture. In addition, AT&T gave its network operating system for its white boxes over to The Linux Foundation, which turned it into the DANOS open source project.
Garg said that he doesn’t really know much about the DANOS strategy but thinks it is a positive development for the industry. “It’s positive from the perspective that you have a large service provider that is forthright with what it is doing. We welcome that.”
Arrcus CTO Keyur Patel and CEO Devesh Garg
This article was updated to reflect ArcOS will be supported on Broadcom’s StrataDNX Jerico+.