Arrcus Debuts NOS Based on Microservices

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By: Michael Vizard

Startup Arrcus emerged from stealth today to unveil a new type of programmable network operating system (NOS) designed to guide open networking switches based on commercial silicon.

Arrcus also revealed it has received $15 million in Series A funding from General Catalyst and Clear Ventures. The company has a who's who list of investors and advisors. Company advisors include Pankaj Patel, former executive vice president of Cisco; Amarjit Gill, serial entrepreneur who founded and sold companies to Apple, Broadcom, Cisco, EMC, Facebook, Google, and Intel; Farzad Nazem, former CTO of Yahoo; Randy Bush, founder of Verio; Fred Baker, former Cisco Fellow, IETF Chair and Co-Chair of the IPv6 Working Group; Nancy Lee, former vice president of people at Google; and Shawn Zandi, director of network engineering at LinkedIn.

The ArcOS is based on a microservices architecture designed to run in user space that separates control and data planes to enable scale using, for example, the latest generation of StrataDNX Jericho+ processors from Broadcom, says Arrcus CEO Devesh Garg.

Layer 3 routing capabilities and a full BGP Internet routing table are baked into the operating system, adds Garg. The operating system itself can be programmatically managed via a set of YANG/OpenConfig application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be employed to access a telemetry data model within ArcOS. ArcOS is designed from the ground up to be a deployed as a disaggregated NOS that can be deployed on switches running in the cloud or in an on-premises environment.

"ArcOS is scalable in all dimensions," says Garg.

Arrcus is plunging into fertile ground, where network operating systems are increasingly built on the "disaggregated" model of supplying a NOS separate from underlying switching hardware. In addition, there is the desire to make networking switches more programmable, as demonstrated by Arista's recent deal with Barefoot Networks to incorporate a programmable chip into its hardware.

Arrcus says its unique angle will be the microservices-based design to support scaling. Previous generations of open NOS platform were not designed to operate at scale nor be as programmatically accessible, contends Garg. Because they lacked those capabilities, those offerings never emerged as viable alternatives to the IOS operating system from Cisco or the EOS operating system developed by Arista Networks, says Garg.

Those capabilities running on open network switches will collectively serve to drive down networking costs that today remain artificially high, says Garg. In fact, Garg notes that Cisco, Juniper Networks, and Arista have all moved to provide a disaggregated operating system option in response to customer pressure to reduce networking costs. But none of those offerings is optimized to scale using low-cost commercial silicon, says Garg.

Developing a go-to-market strategy capable of usurping Cisco, Arista, and Juniper Networks will not be an easy task. But at a time when more organizations than ever are considering their disaggregated networking options, Arrcus and its investors are betting that ArcOS will set itself apart at the right time to upend the established order.