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Arista Networks Acquires SDN Pioneer Big Switch Networks

Arista looks to expand its network visibility and cloud fabric with Big Switch technology.

 By Sean Michael Kerner
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After several weeks of rumors about the acquisition, Arista has now confirmed that it has indeed acquired software defined networking (SDN) pioneer Big Switch Networks.

Financial terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed. As part of the acquisition, Arista is bringing in approximately 75 Big Switch employees, most of whom are from the company's engineering division. Big Switch was founded in 2010 by by Guido Appenzeller and Kyle Forster and had raised approximately $119.5 million in venture funding.

In a 2012 video interview with Enterprise Networking Planet, Forster explained the genesis of the company and its mission, which at the time revolved around the open source OpenFlow protocol for SDN. The company expanded its focus and offerings over the years and now has two core offerings with the Big Monitoring Fabric and Big Cloud Fabric.

Big Switch has also grown thanks in no small part to its strategic partnerships, including one with Dell Technologies.

Arista stand to benefit in a big way

Arista Networks CEO Jayshree Ullal took time during her company's fourth quarter fiscal 2019 earnings call to provide some insight into why Big Switch was acquired. She noted that the acquisition is a strategic step for Arista in bringing a strong combination of engineering expertise, deeper entry into the network packet broker market and increased software multi-cloud visibility.

"We've always been focused on software-driven networking as a mission in Arista," Ullal said. "With Big Switch, we are expanding that mission to a more deep analytic strength complementing our switch based dense or data analyzer platforms with Big Switch's deeper monitoring fabric across public, private and hybrid clouds."

From a product perspective Ullal noted that the Big Switch monitoring fabric is a complementary solution to Arita's DANZ (Data ANalyZer) software. In her view, the Big Switch technology is the "icing on the cake" providing deeper visibility, service nodes, recorder nodes and monitoring fabric capabilities. The Big Cloud Fabric is also expected by Ullal to be an important product, especially with Arista's converged infrastructure partners like Dell Technologies.

Beyond just new products and capabilities, Big Switch also brings new customers to Arista. According to Ullal, Big Switch had approximately 300 customers.

"If we look at their over 300 customers, the overlap with our customers is only one third," she said. "So 60% to 65% of the customers are new to us."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

This article was originally published on Feb 17, 2020
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