Building the Best Possible Network Operating System from First Principles

July 16, 2018 | Keyur Patel

At Arrcus, we found ourselves presented with the rare opportunity of creating a new network operating system from ground up. With this blank sheet of paper in front of us, we were able to use first order architectural principles and incorporate features that we know to be proven and best-in-class. In addition, starting from scratch meant that we were able to take into account feedback from customers who are industry leaders. The result is ArcOS: a network OS built from the ground up on architectural tenants tuned to the key real-world needs of actual users.

ArcOS’s key architectural tenants

Taking in customer feedback and approaching the development of a network OS from the ground up led us to identify several key architectural tenants for a modern network OS that we have incorporated into ArcOS.

For example, ArcOS is a Multi-Process, Multi-Threaded solution that has the ability to use a multi-core CPU. This enables independent scheduling of processes, rapid convergence, superior performance, and scale through the ability to scale out in terms of threads per process. It also enables process restartability which makes for highly robust software that helps keep processes running independently of each other.

In addition, ArcOS has individual process isolation and individual process patching capabilities. Why is this important? It makes for a highly flexible architecture, which allows a variety of container deployment models either containerizing subsets of processes or all of the processes. The process patching capability allows for easy upgrades or hot patching of specific PSIRTs or other issues without impacting other processes.

Finally, ArcOS is 64-bit software on a 64-bit Linux OS. This structure allows processes to scale easily in terms of memory in ways that 32-bit software cannot. As a result, it’s very easy to run BGP at scale if necessary.

ArcOS’s unique features

In addition to architectural features tailored to real-world challenges, ArcOS incorporates a number of unique features that offer further advantages. Key among these features is a distributed data store and a a very easy to consume programmatic structure.

ArcOS’s distributed data store enables high availability of data and a unified mechanism for streaming telemetry data from device software, no matter if it’s a switch, a router, or a server. ArcOS’s easy-to-consume programmatic structure includes a standardized Yang-based model that supports Netconf as well as RESTconf and also incorporates support for python libraries.

Finally, ArcOS’s data model-based telemetry provides operators flexibility in defining, managing and consuming network data. The standardized data models-based programmatic APIs also assist in the faster integration of newer devices with a minimal cost.

We believe that together, these features and the unique architecture of ArcOS make for a truly innovative network OS that has the capabilities to best serve modern challenges by addressing key real-world needs from the ground up.

About Keyur

Keyur Patel brings 20+ years of experience leading and executing complex networking projects at start-ups and market-leading public companies.

Keyur was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco where he has played an instrumental role in architecting and developing Routing and VPN solutions including critical modifications to BGP, BGP NSR, L3VPNs, L2VPNs, EVPNS, MVPNs, Segment Routing, RPKI RTR Protocol, Interdomain Security, Routing Policies, and Routing Analytics.

Prior to Cisco, Keyur held senior engineering positions at AYR Networks (acquired by Cisco) and Tasman Networks (acquired by Nortel) where he was responsible for the design and development of Unicast and Multicast Routing Protocols, Routing Infrastructure, and Layer2 protocols.

Keyur holds 54+ patents in areas of Interdomain Routing and Security, Fast Re-Route Technologies, Network Service Chaining, Layer2 protocols, IPv6, TCP, VPNs, and Routing Virtualization technologies like Optimal Route Reflection.

Keyur is very active in industry forums including IETF and has authored 50 RFCs and Internet Drafts. He also serves as a co-chair for Secured Interdomain Routing Operations (SIDROPS) working group at IETF.

Keyur holds an MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California (USC) and started his career working as a Research Assistant at USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI).