Startup Arrcus's Open OS Supports 400GbE Networks

NEW PRODUCT UPDATE: The startup’s ArcOS open networking OS, which launched last year, now can run on 400GbE switches powered by Broadcom’s Tomahawk 3 silicon.

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Arrcus, a startup that came onto the fast-changing network scene last year with an open operating system designed to run on white-box switches, is expanding its capabilities by offering support for 400 Gigabit Ethernet and high-density 100GbE switching platforms.

Company officials this week unveiled support for Broadcom’s StrataXGS Tomahawk 3 silicon on switches offering by various original-design manufacturers (ODMs) like Celestica and Edgecore Networks. With the support for the Tomahawk 3 comes the capabilities for Arrcus’ ArcOS operating system to run on switches that include up to 32 ports of 400GbE and 128 ports of 100GbE.

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The expanded capabilities not only enable the OS to run in a wider range of environments for 5G, hyperscale and cloud, but also to better compete with similar operating systems from such top-tier networking vendors such as Cisco System and Arista Networks, according to Arrcus co-founder and CEO Devesh Garg.

Viable Alternative to the Big Guys

Garg and other Arrcus officials launched ArcOS last year with the idea of becoming a viable alternative to established vendors.

“We didn’t want to just show up,” he told eWEEK. “We wanted to be as good—if not better—than what the big OEMs run.”

The onset of network virtualization several years ago drove the trend of open networking into the industry. Where once companies like Cisco and Juniper Networks ran their operating systems and software on proprietary hardware, the decoupling of the data plane and network tasks from the hardware meant that OSes and other software could be run on commodity switches powered by merchant silicon.

This gave rise to companies like Cumulus Networks, Pluribus Networks and Big Switch Networks, whose open operating systems can run on hardware from brand names like Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo or on less-expensive white boxes made by ODMs.

The trend has helped ODMs as a gain market share in the networking space over the past couple of years. However, analysts with Dell’Oro Group in December noted that in the key 100GbE market, white-box makers are losing share as enterprises and smaller cloud providers—those that aren’t Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or other major providers—are opting for branded vendors.

Marketshare Through Versatility

It’s a crowded field, but Garg said Arrcus can gain traction by offering the same performance and scalability on white boxes that Cisco, Arista, Juniper and others can on their branded systems. At the same time, the software can run on a wide range of switch ASICs from companies like Broadcom, Cavium (now part of Marvell) and Mellanox. With the latest white-box switches, ArcOS now runs on 13 systems from not only Celestica and Edgecore but also Quanta and Delta, with the switches scaling from 1GbE to 400GbE.

Another key is that switches running the operating system come out with support for new technologies at the same time as those from Cisco, Juniper and Arista, the CEO said. Usually white boxes running open OSes are months behind the larger OEMs coming out with new capabilities. All of this will help ArcOS-based switches compete better with the established vendors.

Arrcus’s competition isn’t open OS makers like Cumulus, Garg said. “What we’re working on is developing a solution that is the best alternative to [Arista’s] EOS and [Cisco’s IOS]. … As people look at Arista and Cisco 400G boxes for the very first time, they can now look at 400G boxes from Edgecore and Celestica for the first time as well.”

He said Arrcus’ support for such protocols as BGP for routing and features such as control plane analytics, traffic optimization and open, programmable APIs are key differentiators from other disaggregated network software vendors. The CEO also noted that those vendors developed their products at a time when the three-tier topology was popular in data centers, whereas today the spine-leaf Clos architecture—which ArcOS was built for—is in the data center now and expanding into the network backbone.

Aimed at Data-Intensive Environments

The latest 400GbE switches are aimed at such data-intensive environments as hyperscale data centers running deep-learning workloads, highly distributed and inter-connected edge data centers in telecommunications clouds to support 5G rollouts, and high-radix, low-latency storage situations, Arrcus said. The switches bring with them up to 12.8 Terabits/second line-rate switching, traffic management capabilities, built-in automation and real-time visibility.

Arrcus was founded in 2016, and the leadership of the 50-employee company is deep in experience with such companies as Cisco, Oracle, Arista, Juniper, Broadcom and EZchip.