The following is a transcript of the audio recording you can listen to in the player above.
Welcome to Briefings In Brief, an audio digest of IT news and information from the Packet Pushers, including vendor briefings, industry research, and commentary.
I’m Ethan Banks, it’s July 16, 2018, and here’s what’s happening. I had a briefing with Arrcus late last week.
Arrcus is a startup that’s built a modern network operating system for the disaggregated networking market. They are running on $15M of Series A funding, and as of today, they have emerged from stealth. In this briefing, Arrcus shared some of the details behind ArcOS, their core product offering. First off…
Why Arrcus And ArcOS?
Doesn’t the world have enough network operating systems, especially when you consider the open networking world? My impression of Arrcus is that they are not competing with the average open source networking solution. Instead, they see Cisco, Juniper, and Arista as their chief competition. Arrcus doesn’t want to be viewed as a commercialized open source NOS, because they aren’t. Arrcus built ArcOS from the ground up to work at the very highest levels of scalability, giving them a software platform to go after the established vendors with. There you go – why Arrcus exists.
Notice I didn’t say that Arrcus is making switches and bundling their NOS with it. And they aren’t. ArcOS is a disaggregation play, meaning you can mix and match switching hardware of your choice with ArcOS running on top. If you follow the disaggregated space, you’ll know that porting a NOS to this whitebox or that Ethernet chipset is not easy to do. Open & commercial disaggregated network operating systems have hardware compatibility lists for this reason. Therefore…
What Hardware Can You Run Arrcus’ ArcOS On?
According to Arrcus, just about anything. In fact, they made it clear in the briefing that they will run on loads of chipsets from Broadcom, Barefoot, Cavium, Innovium, Mellanox, and Nephos. They went so far as to say that ArcOS is the first OS to run on a couple of shiny new emerging chipsets from Broadcom.
How has ArcOS been ported to so many whitebox platforms while so many other disaggregated network operating systems struggle in this area? Arrcus answers that there’s magic in something they call DPAL, or dataplane adaptation layer. The way in which they wrote their DPAL gives them the ability to, with minimal engineering effort, bring new chipsets on board. So we know you can run ArcOS on a wide variety of hardware. Sounds great.
But What Is ArcOS All About As Network Operating System Software?
One feature of ArcOS that came up repeatedly is scalability. ArcOS is a “built from the ground up,” “clean-slate” product, and it was written to handle, among other things, massive ingestion of routes. One example cited brought in the entire Internet routing table and converged a total of 5M paths in 30 seconds. Another example was of bringing in 18M routes and settling in 3 minutes. So ArcOS scales big, and scales across cores for performance.
Architecturally, ArcOS has a run anywhere form factor. It can be deployed a VM or container, and of course on bare metal. And the platform is based on microservices, although we didn’t have a chance to get into any detail on that point. Microservices does underscore Arrcus’ point about per-module restartability, however. Feels like a modern style OS to me.
What about routing protocol daemons? Here again, Arrcus built their own from the ground up. For instance, they could have used Quagga or Free Range Routing open source code as a starting point, but for the way they wanted their daemons to run, it didn’t make sense to start with open source code. Instead, they built their protocol implementations from scratch.
Another key feature of ArcOS is that it is completely model-driven. That is, the entire OS can be programmatically configured, using the OpenConfig YANG models as templates for the data structures. OpenConfig YANG is fairly widely adopted in Arrcus’ point of view, so they thought that was a great starting point for their models. With all of this as a backdrop…
Where Does Arrcus And ArcOS Fit Into The World, Then?
Their answer is “everywhere.” They see a potential home for ArcOS in all sorts of places looking to break out of the vertically integrated networking model, and move to a fully modern network operating system that has needed features without any bloat. Use cases include cloud scale routing, ISP peering, data center interconnect, leaf-spine fabrics with routing to the host, and massive route reflector networks.
For More Information
Visit https://www.arrcus.com/. That’s A R R C U S dot com. And if you talk them up, tell them you heard about them on Packet Pushers.