Arista Networks is introducing software that retains network state and policy across any kind of network infrastructure - physical, virtual or cloud.

Its Virtualised Extensible Operating System (vEOS) can manage physical networks based on Arista's own data center switch hardware and on VMware's vSphere cloud operating system and vNetwork switch. So policies and configurations such as ACLs, QoS, subnet groupings and the like travel with servers as they move from physical machines to virtual machines (VM) and even into cloud infrastructure, the company says.

The alternative is to manually create a master map of these factors for physical, virtual and cloud instances of servers and to manage each separately, says James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research. "That's just hard to do," he says. "It's confusing."

To take full advantage of the software, customers would have to use Arista switches for their physical infrastructure. If they used Cisco, for example, they could still use vEOS for virtual and cloud infrastructure, but not for the Cisco gear, Staten says.
He expects Cisco and Juniper to come up with this capability, but Arista appears to be the first with such an offering. These other vendors would also be limited to managing their own physical gear, he says.

Customers with switches from Cisco or other vendors might still use vEOS to keep track of virtual and cloud environments, enabling a single common interface for managing them as opposed to multiple individual interfaces, Staten says.

As VMware VMs migrate, vEOS ensures that appropriate policies and configurations follow the virtual instances - access control, segmentation, virtual LAN assignments and accounting information.

VEOS runs on a VMware VMs as a virtual appliance. It also runs on Arista 7000 networking switches. Initially, each VM version supports 64 hosts and costs $5,000 (£3,000). VEOS will be bundled with Arista switches.

VEOS will be available for beta testing in October and generally available by year-end.