Sun, Cisco Vets Join Linux-Based Networking Play

Sun co-founder Andreas von Bechtolsheim is giving up his full-time job at the company to focus on a startup networking play.

Bechtolsheim is now set to become the chief development officer and chairman of startup Arista Networks. In moving to Arista, Bechtolsheim isn’t joining a company he is unfamiliar with: He helped to found Arista as one of its principal investors.

He’ll be joined by former Cisco vice president Jayshree Ullal, who will serve as Arista’s CEO.

The management moves by Arista come as the startup aims to raise its profile and to challenge Cisco and other networking vendors in the $9.5 billion market for 10G equipment and services.

“We are a startup, and as a startup, customers want to know that we’ll be here for a long time, ” Mansour Karam, director of marketing and business development at Arista, told “So what we’re doing is, for one, we just hired really heavyweight executives that have a lot of experience in this market.”

However, Bechtolsheim will not entirely be leaving the company he, Scott McNealy and Vinod Khosla co-founded in 1982.

Sun, the name of which at the time had stood for stood for “Stanford University Network, said in an e-mail statement Bechtolsheim would continue his work there on a part-time basis. In particular, Bechtolsheim will continue his present involvement with the Sun Systems group in helping to drive new product architectures, including X64 servers and storage servers.

Meanwhile, Ullal joins Arista as CEO shortly after a 15-year stint at Cisco, which she left in May.

Ullal had formerly served as senior vice president in Cisco’s datacenter, switching and services unit — a $10 billion line of business for the networking giant.

“Jayshree and [Bechtolsheim] have known each other for some time,” Karam said. “She is very familiar with the space, and looking at our product, she saw a lot of value in our EOS [or Extensible Operating System] and what it can bring to cloud networking. ”

Founded in 2004 and formerly known as Arastra, Arista shipped its first product releases in late 2007. The core of its lineup is its 7100 platform, which is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switching platform that has a Linux-based operating system at its core, dubbed Arista EOS.

The goal with EOS is to create a highly scalable platform that is specifically tailored for the needs of cloud computing in the datacenter, Karam said. EOS is based on a Red Hat Fedora Linux core that Arista said has been modified and hardened.

Karam noted that Arista has no formal business relationship with Red Hat or with its Fedora Linux community — rather, Arista is just using Fedora under the terms of its open source license.

While the current focus for Arista is on the 10G space, Karam claimed that it will also be ready for 40G and 100G. Karam declined, however, to comment on when Arista would have either of the higher-speed products in the market.

“While we’re committed to be ahead of the curve, we’re not announcing plans at this stage,” Karam said.

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