Tidbits: Oracle-Arista Rumor, Controller Complexity, More Cisco SDN

This Week’s Rumor

Rumors that Oracle is considering an acquisition of Arista Networks have circulated this week. They’re likely nothing more than idle chatter. Arista has rejected takeover overtures previously, and it seems determined to go the IPO route.

Controller Complexity

Lori MacVittie provides consistently excellent blogging at F5 Networks’ DevCentral. In a post earlier this week, she examined the challenges and opportunities facing OpenFlow-based SDN controllers. Commenting on the code complexity of controllers, she writes the following:

This likely means unless there are some guarantees regarding the quality and thoroughness of testing (and thus reliability) of OpenFlow controllers, network operators are likely to put up a fight at the suggestion said controllers be put into the network. Which may mean that the actual use of OpenFlow will be limited to an ecosystem of partners offering “certified” (aka guaranteed by the vendor) controllers.

It’s a thought-provoking read, raising valid questions, especially in the context of enterprise customers.

Cisco SDN

Last week, Cisco and Morgan Stanley hosted a conference call on Cisco’s SDN strategy. (To the best of my knowledge, Morgan Stanley doesn’t have one — yet.)  Cisco was represented on the call by David Ward, VP and chief architect of the company’s Service Provider Division; and by Shashi Kiran, senior director of market management for Data Center/Virtualization and Enterprise Switching Group.

The presentation is available online. It doesn’t contain any startling revelations, and it functions partly as a teaser for forthcoming product announcements at CiscoLive in San Diego. Still, it’s worth a perusal for those of you seeking clues on where Cisco is going with its SDN plans. If you do check it out, you’ll notice on side three that a number of headlines are featured attesting to the industry buzz surrounding SDN.  Two bloggers are cited in that slide: Greg Ferro (EtherealMind) and, yes, yours truly, who gets cited for a recent interpretation of Cisco’s SDN maneuverings.

6 responses to “Tidbits: Oracle-Arista Rumor, Controller Complexity, More Cisco SDN

  1. Chalon Duncan

    Considering Andy’s history at Sun I have long suspected Arista’s
    intent was to get acquired by them. It looks as though he greased the
    skids by building his products to look like they could be handed right
    over to Sun. The Arista 7100 series of switches are fit and finish
    identical to the Sun Infiniband Switch 72. From power supplies to fan
    tray design with cool little closing doors when empty. Right down to
    the air inlet perforations and front facing LEDs. Customers who take
    the lid off can see the Asic and control plane placement on the
    circuit board down to the vertical mounting of components as
    identical. What backroom deals were made to share intellectual
    property without the public catching wind of it? Was Sun incubating a
    startup like Cisco is with Insiemi?

    Source:

    http://www.c0t0d0s0.org/archives/5968-Sun-Datacenter-Infiniband-Switch-72.html

    Even the modular chassis is not ground breaking. The small form factor
    design down to the perforated face plates of the line cards were taken
    from Sun. It’s almost like Arista is America’s own Huawei.

    Source:

    Now Sun is owned by Oracle and any deal to acquire Arista is most
    likely being driven from within. Between the Sun ties and Arista
    employees with hopes of IPO or acquisition I am sure rumors “leaks”
    are spilling into the street. My biggest curiosity is of the Arista
    logo being the same exact font type as the Oracle logo. This was done
    long before Sun was acquired by Oracle. Makes me wonder if there were
    super secret plans for these mergers all engineered by the elite? Andy
    would have to amass an army of tech titans to challenge the power of
    Cisco M.P.L.S. and offset the political balance in networking. That
    really bakes my noodle…

  2. Quite a stretch by a former Cisco competitive marketing guy.

    A few thoughts:

    1) I think most anyone involved in the Sun Oracle merger from the Sun side would not want to sell a company again to Oracle.

    2) The Oracle chassis looks a lot like the Arista one. It would either be IP infringement, or Arista licensed the chassis design to Oracle, probably for a one-time NRE.

    3) Arista doesn’t exactly spend a lot on design agencies for logos and such – am pretty sure Andy just liked the font.

  3. Chalon Duncan

    A stretch is only an attempt to connect the dots based on loosely and or tightly connected details. I saw the IBM acquisition of BNT coming a mile away after data mining movements of Cisco, HP, IBM, and BNT.

    With consideration to the internal dissent earlier Cisco spin-ins caused. I still think there may be something bigger at play here with this Arista/Oracle rumor. There have to be major technology alliances made to carve out any significant market share from Cisco. Otherwise any startup will end of competing against it’s peers of similar size for scraps left over or only catering to an A.B.C. client base which Cisco may dismiss as niche.

    The nail that sticks up gets hammered down which Cisco is quite good at. However Arista is like a hydra in that it’s vast partner eco-system spanning so many technology areas springs up so many places Cisco cannot hammer all the nails down. Oracle would be the tidal wave Arista needs to maintain momentum and overturn the balance taking hold of the hammer.

  4. Arista sold the 1RU design to Sun for the IB switch. It was stretched for the 72 port switch.

  5. Chalon Duncan

    Interesting response TBD. If true that makes sense given the timeline for when Arista was lurking in the shadows before Sun debuted both IB switches at ISC in 2009. Just further builds the case for why Oracle may hedge with Arista as their Ethernet solution if the investment into the Mellanox/Voltaire partnership doesn’t pan out. Oracle just needs the meat to the Arista sandwich they already started making in 2007/2008.

  6. Only issue I see is that to date Oracle has not shown the appetite for networking. They seem to like buying ‘deals’ and Arista is far from underprice/undervalued. While there is no data or VC rounds to substantiate a valuation we could discern I can’t see that management team settling for millions, they want ‘B’s not ‘M’s.

    You mention the ecosystem Arista has been building out of partners that are all best of breed players that compete with Cisco in their own niches: Palo Alto, F5, Riverbed, etc. The outlier you’re not bringing up is EMC – from the dissent I see at VCE I think you’ll see a much stronger Arista/EMC partnership than Arista/Oracle (unless your acquisition theory is correct at which point all bets are off!)

    The real kicker for Arista will be if they can get their engineering team to catch up to their marketing. The products are good, no doubt – but for all that EOS is called ‘extensible’ I can’t seem to find a published API of any sort. The XMPP interface is cute, could be better if productized and integrated right, features like LANZ and ZTP are currently lacking ecosystem adoption, and they could definitely use some linkage with Open vSwitch instead of just cozying up to VMware – would make their story much tighter and as you put it add some meat to the sandwich.

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