EMA Vendor to Watch – Arrcus


August 28, 2018

Arrcus Offers Versatile NOS for Open Networking

San Jose-based startup Arrcus, Inc. emerged from stealth mode to introduce ArcOS, a robust network operating system for disaggregated, scale-out network infrastructure. Unlike many operating systems for so-called white-box networking, ArcOSTM uses open standards and is suitable for just about any networking use case across physical, virtual and cloud network environments. The company also announced a $15 million Series A investment from General Catalyst Partners and Clear Ventures.

In addition, the company revealed that ArcOS enables a comprehensive telemetry solution for network fault, performance management and security use cases. Arrcus is coming to market with an unusually mature network operating system for disaggregated network solutions, making it an EMA Vendor to Watch.

ArcOS: Modular Software with Internet-Scale Routing

Arrcus has developed ArcOS, a modular network operating system (NOS), with a high-performance internet-scale routing engine that makes it suitable for just about any networking use case, including both the leaf and spine layers of scale-out data centers and data center interconnect routing. The company says ArcOS is the first independent NOS to support Broadcom’s StrataDNX Jericho+ and StrataXGS Trident 3 platforms, giving network operators the ability to leverage some of the most advanced network silicon on the market. Arrcus is also targeting network edge and service provider use cases, such as mobile core routing and content delivery networks.

This flexibility distinguishes Arrcus from other disaggregated NOS solution providers, which are optimized more for the top-of-rack layer of a data center network, albeit with some vendors evolving their platforms for other use cases more recently. Network operators can also run ArcOS as a virtual machine or container, which makes it suitable for cloud use cases.

Arrcus says ArcOS is hardware-agnostic and capable of leveraging whatever hardware a network operator chooses. Its Data Plane Adaptation Layer (DPALTM) technique enables rapid adaptation to networking silicon from different vendors, providing network operators the flexibility to swap out underlying hardware without changing the ArcOS software layer. Today Arrcus is formally partnered with four original design manufacturers (ODMs) of white-box network hardware: Accton Technology Corporation, Celestica, Delta Networks, and Quanta Cloud Technology.

ArcOS is based on a microservices architecture, where network services are fully isolated from one another and from the underlying Linux kernel. This contrasts from some other NOS solutions, which perform the bulk of network processes within the kernel. Arrcus claims this architecture gives ArcOS a performance, scalability, and resiliency edge over competitors. This architecture also allows ArcOS to be optimized for streaming telemetry for network and security analytics use cases.

EMA Perspective

The disaggregated NOS market is crowded with software startups, open-source projects, and incumbent network hardware vendors that are pivoting toward software. The so-called white-box or brite-box market is in relative infancy due to operating system constraints, with the majority of enterprises still in the investigative stage with the technology. Still, ArcOS stands out asan unusually mature software platform for disaggregated routing and switching. It’s built for high-performance, large-scale use cases with a companion analytics solution that will help network teams operationalize an ArcOS-based network.

EMA research found that early adopters of network disaggregation experience three major benefits: the integration of network and systems engineering and operations, access to enhanced network customization, and access to accelerated software innovation.With its suite of REST, YANG, and OpenConfig application programming interfaces (APIs) and its modular design, ArcOS is positioned to deliver all of these benefits.

Arrcus’s solution also meets a major operational requirement for network infrastructure teams through its ability to stream telemetry. EMA research found extremely high enterprise interest in advanced network analytics solutions to solve network operations and security use cases. In particular, EMA found that the majority of enterprises consume advanced network analytics as solutions embedded in their network infrastructure.2 Arrcus’s decision to offer comprehensive network telemetry enhances its appeal.

For all these reasons and more, EMA has named Arrcus a Vendor to Watch. EMA recommends that enterprises interested in network disaggregation evaluate ArcOS.

1 EMA, “Data Center Network Transformation,” July 2017.
2 EMA, “Advanced Network Analytics: Applying Machine Learning and More to Network Engineering and Operations,” January 2018.