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Arista acquires Pluribus Networks for cloud fabric product

Arista plans to fold Pluribus technology into a new product that lets telcos run a software-defined network across switches, routers, computer servers and accelerator DPUs.

This week's acquisition of Pluribus Networks gives networking vendor Arista Networks a jumpstart on its Unified Cloud Fabric, as well as a toehold in the telco market.

In March, Pluribus announced that it would evolve its Adaptive Cloud Fabric, a software-based VXLAN overlay to manage multiple data centers, or select racks, pods, server farms or hyperconverged infrastructures from one interface into a more efficient product called Unified Cloud Fabric. Pluribus planned to achieve greater operational efficiency by offloading networking functions to an Nvidia Bluefield-2 DPU on the server. Functions to be offloaded included Layer 2 and 3 underlay network connectivity, VXLAN tunnel encapsulation, BGP EVPN and multi-tenant segmentation.

Arista will now fold the Pluribus Unified Cloud Fabric technology into a new offering, also called Unified Cloud Fabric. Similar to the Pluribus plan, Arista's Unified Cloud Fabric will run a software-defined network across switches, routers, compute servers and accelerator DPUs to provide real-time analytics across the fabric and faster troubleshooting when working across multiple domains. Arista still plans to use the Nvidia Bluefield-2 DPU for the project and sees telco operators of 4G/5G networks as its target market, the company said in a blog post.

The Pluribus acquisition is also intended to give Arista an in with the telco market. Since 2016, Pluribus has partnered with Swedish telecommunications infrastructure and software vendor Ericsson on network fabric for NFVI deployments.

"The acquisition of Pluribus by Arista Networks will further the Ericsson partnership with Arista Networks and benefit our joint customers deploying Ericsson's NFVI solutions through Arista and Ericsson's combined networking expertise," said Lars Martensson, head of solutions area cloud and NFVi at Ericsson AB, in a blog post.

Relationships with major players outside Arista's historic data center vertical, like the one with Ericsson, make Pluribus hugely appealing as an acquisition target, said Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Bob Laliberte.

"[Arista acquiring Pluribus] makes sense," Laliberte said. "It instantly gives them a presence in the SmartNIC space, leveraging that relationship with Nvidia, and it instantly gives them a telco presence with the Ericsson relationship."

"Pluribus is a great acquisition for its talent and technology, and to help us build and bring more capabilities to the Unified Cloud Fabric," said Jayshree Ullal, Arista Networks president and CEO, during the vendor's second quarter 2022 earnings call on Monday. On the call, Ullal also announced Arista had recorded its first billion-dollar revenue quarter in May through July.

The Pluribus Networks acquisition builds on Arista's acquisition of another SDN vendor, Big Switch Networks, in 2020. Big Switch Networks' technology allows users to orchestrate, automate, secure and derive analytics from many physical switches as a single fabric.

Arista has not announced the cost or timeline of the acquisition, nor what it means for the more than 140 Pluribus employees.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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