The legal feud between Cisco and Arista may finally be over, though perhaps not in the way any of us had expected.
The news starting to filter out of San Jose this morning is that Cisco has agreed to drop its lawsuit in return for the immediate acquisition of Arista Networks’ assets, intellectual property and employees. After the ITC’s initial determination last month that Arista had infringed on three out of five patents listed in the suit, it is understood that this solution was urgently brokered to protect the company’s employees from the potential fallout should the ITC’s next ruling be less than favorable.
Sources close to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins are saying that Cisco plans to rebrand Arista’s impressive 7500 switch hardware as the new flagship Cisco Nexus 8000 series. With its reassuringly familiar command line interface, Arista’s EOS should be a seamless addition to Cisco’s impressive existing portfolio of network operating systems (i.e. IOS, Native IOS, IOS-XR, IOS-XRv, IOS-XE and NXOS) and customers will likely be lining up to deploy the impressive new Nexus 8000 series hardware without having to suffer through the pains of the usual new product learning curve.
In some ways the timing of this acquisition could not be much better, coming as it does off the back of Cisco’s recent announcement of an internal restructuring. It’s going to be easier (relatively) to integrate Arista as part of that existing initiative, but I see tough times ahead –and a huge culture shock– for those Arista employees caught up in this situation who have not previously worked for Cisco.
In a final ironic twist, Arista founder Ken Duda is expected to be offered a role leading Cisco’s Switching BU as part of the reshuffle. It remains to be seen whether he would take on such a position.
More news as I get it.
Happy April 1st to all my friends at Cisco and Arista!
If they’re still speaking to me, that is.