Billionaire Andreas von Bechtolsheim — "Andy" to us — cofounded Sun Microsystems in 1982. The original Sun team of Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla, Bill Joy, and Scott McNealy were like the Beatles to a previous generation of Silicon Valley engineers. Now, Bechtolsheim's using the current imaginary financial apocalypse to plant good news about Arista Networks. "Innovations in Cloud Networking" is the company's meaningless slogan. What Andy really wants to say: Throw those stinky old Cisco routers away! Oh, here's the part where Sun PR tells everyone a lie about Bechtolsheim "continuing his present involvement" at Sun as an advisor. Never mind that — just read the nut from his NYT article.
Arista — known as Arastra until it changed its name this week — is expected to announce on Thursday that it has recruited Jayshree Ullal as chief executive. Ms. Ullal left Cisco in May after leading the company’s $10 billion corporate switch business. In addition, the company will name a Stanford University professor, David R. Cheriton, as its chief scientist. Mr. Bechtolsheim and Mr. Cheriton are the sole investors in Arista, and they are known in Silicon Valley as men with a golden touch. They decided to focus on switches that shuttle Internet traffic using the 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard, which is many times faster than the Gigabit Ethernet standard that dominates data centers today. Switches are the most common hardware used to funnel information between computing systems in a network. The key to Arista’s switches is the structure of the software that manages them. A typical switch from Cisco is rich in features, but has up to 20 million lines of software code and may run on relatively slow processors. Arista breaks all of the major and minor tasks into their own modules that can be updated individually and uses more powerful chips to run it all. Mr. Bechtolsheim said the design would let Arista make quick changes to products — even while they were running — and would also open an interface for customers to more easily add their own features. “My iPhone runs better software than a typical switch,” Mr. Bechtolsheim said. "It is just mind-boggling that the cheapest consumer product has more robust software than what the Internet runs on."
(Photo by Brian Stubel)