The success of Arista Networks* is proof that there’s always room for an innovative start up – even in markets dominated by large players that execute well. But great innovation often requires market disruption to gain a foothold with customers.

 

In a recent interview with Network World, Arista President and CEO Jayshree Ullal talked about the market trends that helped Arista take off.  She said:

 

“Arista saw three disruptions in the market: a hardware disruption; a software disruption; and a customer buying disruption, which in my mind is the most important thing.”

 

Two of these trends are interesting to me because we’ve been participating in them.  First, the hardware disruption she mentions is the rise of merchant network switch silicon that has performance and features comparable to ASIC switches.

 

Our Intel® Ethernet switch family is pioneering these merchant switch devices.  We not only provide throughput that is equal to or better than that of an ASIC, but our layer 3 latency is the industry’s lowest as well.

 

With a switch chip that provided competitive throughput and features to compete, Arista didn’t need to spend the large amount of resources on an ASIC development program, unlike some of its large competitors.

 

Instead, they were able to differentiate themselves with software – the second disruption on Jayshree’s list.  Arista developed its own operating system – the Extensible Operating System – leveraging Linux as the foundation.

 

Our Intel Ethernet switch FM6000 series silicon contributes to software innovation through its programmable FlexPipe™ frame processing technology.  FlexPipe’s configurable microcode allows switch manufacturers to update features or support new standards even on systems that are already in the field.

 

In order for our customers to evaluate the advanced FM6000 series features, we also provide our Seacliff Trail reference design, which has a Crystal Forest-based control plane processor on board.  Crystal Forest can be used as a standard control plane processor, or as a SDN controller host, or even to experiment with Intel’s Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK™).

 

It’s been great to have played a role in the market changes that have given Arista – and other companies – a chance to launch and to flourish.  Viva la Disruption!