Cloud
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10/23/2008
09:07 PM
John Foley
John Foley
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Arista Networks Trademarks 'Cloud Networking'

Arista Networks made news with the appointments of Andy Bechtolsheim as chairman and chief development officer and Jayshree Ullal as president and CEO, along with a name change (from Arastra) and three new customers. Easily lost in all that was the little trademark symbol attached to "cloud networking," the term it's begun using to describe its thrust.

Arista Networks made news with the appointments of Andy Bechtolsheim as chairman and chief development officer and Jayshree Ullal as president and CEO, along with a name change (from Arastra) and three new customers. Easily lost in all that was the little trademark symbol attached to "cloud networking," the term it's begun using to describe its thrust.Arista Networks was founded in late 2004--it's name was Arastra at the time -- by Bechtolsheim, David Cheriton, and Ken Duda. Bechtolsheim is better known as co-founder and chief system architect at Sun Microsystems, and the announcement that he's shifting his attentions from Sun to Arista Networks is significant in its own right. Ullal, a 15-year veteran of Cisco, resigned from her senior VP position with that company in May. With Ullal and Bechtolsheim at the top, Arista Networks immediately becomes a key company to watch.

So it's worth noting that Arista Networks is pushing the concept of "cloud networking," which the company says is a newly trademarked phrase. The company refers to its products -- a line of 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches, its Extensible Operating System, and related gear -- collectively as a cloud networking platform. (Earlier this year, Dell tried to trademark "cloud computing." The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Dell's request in August, saying the term was too generic.)

What is cloud networking? Ullal tackled that question her first day on the job. It refers to the networking requirements inherent in cloud computing, where IT resources are accessed in a highly flexible manner over the Web or another network. Ullal boils cloud networking down to a few key characteristics: scalability, low latency, guaranteed performance, self-healing resilience, and extensible management. "Solving these problems requires a new design approach for the cloud network fabric, starting with software architecture," she writes.

It's clear from Ullal's blog and from talking to Arista Networks that the company is aiming its products at both public clouds (i.e., Amazon's EC2) and private clouds operated from corporate data centers. Bandwidth, response time, and network availability are critical issues in both approaches. One CIO I talked with said he had to add five times the network capacity to support his move to the cloud. Expect to hear a lot more about the networking challenges of cloud computing in the months ahead, and not just from Arista Networks.

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