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Single-handedly, fierce Cisco competitor Arista Networks appears to have delayed Cisco's SDN initiative

"An executive move like this will delay Cisco's onePK for 6 - 12 months."

Hershey, PA:   Mon, 10/01/12 - 2:20pm    View comments

Arista NetworksCiscoIn what appears to be a coup d'etat within the critically important software-defined networking (SDN) revolution, Cisco's most fierce data center, high-performance computing and high-frequency trading network switch competitor, Arista Networks, has added Cisco's former top SDN engineering star, Tom Black, to its outstanding management team roster.

SDN CentralMatt PalmerYesterday Matt Palmer, the cofounder of network virtualization and software-defined networking (SDN) community website, SDN Central, broke the stunning SDN news:

Tom Black, Executive Leading Cisco's onePK has left to join Arista

Palmer's key takeaway:

"An executive move like this will delay Cisco's onePK for 6 - 12 months."

Tom BlackCerent CorporationAccording to Black's LinkedIn profile, he's a 13-year Cisco veteran having joined it upon Cisco's $7.2 billion acquisition of optical equipment vendor Cerent Corporation in August 1999.

As Cisco's vice president of engineering, Tom Black was responsible for Cisco's software-defined networking (SDN) initiatives such as Cisco's highly-touted One Platform Kit (onePK). onePK is and/or was supposed to deliver platform APIs, agents and controllers for programmatic access across Cisco's operating systems and hardware platforms.

RBC Capital MarketsMark SueHere's an interesting take on what appears to be Arista's SDN engineering talent coup d'etat from the always unflappable RBC Capital Markets Managing Director, Mark Sue:

"For Cisco to lead new markets such as SDNs, its important for the company to not only fund new initiatives but also keep its key talent.

"The company has a broad base of individudals, so we're confident the company will move forward, yet each departure can introduce delays in getting to market."

I believe the following confidential slide presentation will help expose Arista's SDN strategy for all to see:

Networking TAM by Segment

Arista SDN Architectural Approach

VMware Joint-Development VMworld 2012

First SDN Switch - Arista 7150


Knowledgeable sources about both Cisco and Arista are revealing:

It now appears Cisco maybe doing "unbelievably, unnatural things" in response to the fierce competition its getting from Arista Networks, for example:

  • Cisco maybe giving away its Nexus switches to keep clients from implementing Arista switches.
  • Cisco maybe giving its Nexus switches to clients with the promise of Insieme in 9-months.
  • Cisco maybe offering further life support for its 6500 switches until it gets the Insieme gear out the door.

    Note: It also now appears that Cisco might have done the same thing last year when competing against Aruba in the wireless space. Aruba appeared to be defeating Cisco's wireless products in Cisco's global 2000 customer accounts until it appeared Cisco began a strategic giveaway program. Aruba then appeared to somewhat slowdown and then stall in taking away Cisco's enterprise accounts. I mean, is it possible that when Cisco cannot win on merit, it gives its products away in order to keep competitors out of Cisco's accounts?

Finally, yet another knowledgeable source provides the following 5-key takeaways that address what appears to be the SDN strategy at Arista:
  1. It appears that the Arista EOS is the ONLY programmable, open modern Network OS, in what appears to be a key foundation for Cloud networks based on application.
  2. It appears Arista will be developing many SDN control points, examples might include LANZ, AEM, etc.
  3. It appears Arista has developed an open APIS for controller friendly solutions.
  4. If Network Virtualization/VXLANS is an important invention for scale and foundation of cloud networks, it appears that Arista is addressing it.
  5. Tom Black appears to bolster the ongoing and extensive focus on Arista's EOS/SDN, along with the following outstanding engineers:

Related podcast:

The Lippis Report: Cisco is leading the market toward Open Networking with Cisco ONE

Related story:

New Nexus 1000V Free-mium Pricing Model

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