Review: Arista 7280R Series Universal Leaf and IP Storage Networks

Product Review: Arista 7280R Series Universal Leaf and IP Storage Networks

The Arista 7280R series is a collection of fixed configuration switches designed for the modern data center. More specifically, the 7280R is a “set of purpose built 10/25/40/50/100GbE fixed configuration 1RU and 2RU systems designed for the highest performance environments such as IP Storage, Content Delivery Networks, Data Center Interconnect, and IP Peering”. In other words, the 7280R series is an entire platform dedicated to fixed switching and routing. The 7280R series combines dynamic and deep buffering and has a comprehensive range of L2 and L3 features such as wire speed forwarding. Many other features are available in the 7280R series, including open monitoring, network analysis, resiliency, and additional features for network virtualization. The product also includes the Arista EOS (Extensible Operating System), which is a fully programmable, Linux-based OS that is part of the core of a variety of Arista cloud networking solutions.

Related: Storage Resource Monitor helps administrators manage resources, capacity and troubleshoot storage environments

“With the growing requirements of delivering content we needed a predictableperformance, compact and scalable platform that is able to evolve more quickly to these changing needs. Arista’s 7280R platform provides significant port density, combined with a robust and programmable EOS software stack, for better control of our content delivery infrastructure.” -Peter Carlson, Product Owner, Spotify

Review: Arista 7280R Series Universal Leaf and IP Storage Networks - YourDailyTech
All four models in the Arista 7280R series


The 7280R series expands upon an existing Arista product offering, the 7280SE series, that is already commonly deployed in enterprise networks. Overall, the 7280R provides a feature-rich Ethernet solution in tight single- or double-rack form factors (1RU or 2RU, respectively). One important features of the 7280R series is the speeds that data can be accessed, and the number of ports available in the unit. The 7280CR-48, the largest model in the 7280R series, provides 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE) on forty-eight ports, though speeds can be chosen in a range between 10-100 GbE. Additional ports include: thirty-six 40GbE ports, forty-eight 10GbE ports with SFP+, and forty-eight 10GBASE-T ports for situations where it is desired to have 10 GbE of speed over copper, shielded or unshielded twisted pair cables.

Related: IP Address Manager manages IP addresses, subnets, DNS and DHCP 

The 7280R is also responsible for powering the Universal Leaf platform, which complements the recently released Universal Spline system (powered by 7500R switches and routers). It makes sense that Arista would release these two devices within months of each other, given that it has been aggressively pushing the leaf-spline architecture as the way of the future for modern data centers. Also, the two products are not substitutes for each other; the Universal Spline is specifically designed for the core router market, while the Universal Leaf is targeted at a number of other markets such as IP storage networks, digital media, hyperconvergence, and general computing. More broadly, the Universal Leaf is designed to be a single switch series capable of handling a variety of network functions and types. This is in contrast to most switches, which are less general-purpose and designed with a few specific capabilities in mind.

Another important feature of the 7280R series is its use of FlexRoute Engine Large Tables, which supports the full Internet routing table in hardware. FlexRoute allows for Arista products to hold greater than one million IPv4 and IPv6 routes, allowing it to take the place of a traditional Internet edge router. Since Arista’s product is less than one-tenth of the price of traditional edge routers, this could be an attractive proposition for companies to think about. When combined with the Arista EOS NetDB, the FlexRoute enables “innovation not natively available in merchant chipsets”, according to the 7280R data sheet. More specifically, it supports hundreds of BGP peers and large-scale ECMP, with excellent routing convergence.

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The 7280R series provides a platform with a number of capabilities and leaf networking opportunities, particularly for IP storage, digital media, and routing. In doing so, it provides a challenge to conventional network design, such as fiber channel storage area networks (SAN). In addition, the 7280R meets the needs of the next generation of data storage, providing lossless forwarding and large, high density Internet scale tables through the FlexRoute engine. It is a solution that takes on multiple challenges, but seems to do them all well. With the release of the 7280R and 7500R platforms, Arista is clearly taking a leap into the Internet router market, targeting incumbent companies such as Cisco and Juniper. One area where these incumbents do well is the integration of optical and packet transport. These companies have been developing custom ASICs for the exact purpose of transport integration, but Arista has some firepower with the Universal Spline network and its relationship with photonics manufacturer Infinera.

Arista Networks will be appearing at multiple large conferences over the next several months, including VMWorld 2016 at the end of August, and the HPE Global Partner Conference in mid-September. A larger list of upcoming company events can be found here.

Additional Resources:

7280R series Product Brochure
7280R series Data Sheet
7280R Overview
Arista Networks Upcoming Events