The latest winner of TechTarget's Network Innovation Award is networking startup Arrcus Inc. in recognition of its scalable network OS, ArcOS. Arrcus -- founded in 2016 -- believes it can compete with established vendors like Cisco, Arista Networks and Juniper Networks. With a microservices-based architecture and extensive routing protocol support, the OS software can run on 1, 10, 25, 40, 100 and 400 Gigabit Ethernet systems.
SearchNetworking spoke with Arrcus founder and CEO Devesh Garg to learn more about the networking startup's software-based routing technology.
Editor's note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What did Arrcus set out to accomplish as a new networking startup?
Devesh Garg: Our mission is to democratize networking by delivering a routing-centric, standards-based network architecture -- with best-in-class software, the most flexible consumption model and the lowest total cost of ownership.
For too long, the large OEMs have had a stranglehold on the marketplace. Now, people are saying, 'I don't want to pay exorbitant prices to Arista -- I need to diversify.' Fundamentally, in every area of life, we all want choice. Arrcus is a modern OEM, and ArcOS -- the Arrcus operating system -- is the basis of that. It gives you limitless possibilities based on a multitude of use cases -- a concept we call network infinite.
What do you mean by 'flexible consumption model?'
Devesh GargFounder and CEO, Arrcus
Garg: We can deliver ArcOS on any hardware, in any deployment scenario. We have some customers who say, 'I just want the software.' Others say, 'I want to buy the hardware through my system integrator,' or, 'We're used to buying software coupled with hardware.' We have an entire supply chain in place -- we bundle our software with the appropriate hardware and ship it.
In all cases, we do it with a lower total cost of ownership. We allow the customer to select the right software, with the right hardware, at the right cost.
Tell us more about how ArcOS works.
Garg: We're all about standards and automation, so everything we do is API-based. We can work with any controller -- NSO [Network Services Orchestrator] from Cisco, NSX from VMware, OpenDaylight, Lumina -- we don't care. The use cases we focus on most relate to IP Clos -- the dominant, hierarchical network topology in service provider, cloud provider, hyperscale and enterprise data centers. We've recently taken ArcOS and ported it onto Broadcom's Jericho2-based chipset. We can bring you 40, 80-plus ports with deep routing capability for peering and edge use cases.
We're also doing something that we call open aggregated routing, which is a virtualized scale-out control plane that separates the ArcOS functionality residing on the server and puts it on stackable data planes to create an alternative to high-core count, chassis-based solutions. Then, finally, we have hybrid cloud networking capabilities.
It's one architecture that can be purposed for a variety of use cases, depending on the underlying hardware, performance requirements, how it's being used and what it's being used for. We can deploy it on any hardware, on prem as a VM or in a container in the cloud.
You say you don't like using the word disaggregation to describe the separation of the network OS from the data plane. Why?
Garg: Disaggregation makes me think of destruction. Instead, we think about integration. We have to provide an OS that integrates with any hardware, platform or tools -- and we have to do it as well as or better than Cisco and Arista. Our virtualized hypervisor layer -- which we call the data plane adaptability layer -- is intelligent and programmable, and our OpenConfig, YANG-based models work with any third-party environment.
I'd suggest Cisco's Silicon One announcement mimics what we've been doing for the past three years. The big guys are reacting because they know that what we have pioneered and delivered on since Arrcus' inception is what the customer base wants.
How does ArcOS differ from other white box networking startups' offerings?
Garg: The other guys cobble together open source code, then repackage and rebrand it -- they're glorified software system integrators. It's the Frankenstein approach. But you're not going to use an open source BGP [Border Gateway Protocol] stack and beat Cisco and Arista. It's just not going to happen.
Who are your customers?
Garg: ArcOS is deployed at some of the most well-known, reputable companies in the world. We target Fortune 100 companies -- telecom carriers, cloud providers and CDNs [content delivery networks]. We have somewhere between 10 and 20 paying customers and probably about 50 active, substantive leads.