Tech Corner

Arista Targeting SD-WAN Use Cases With AWE-5000 Router Series

Arista, the California-based network equipment manufacturer, is finally entering the routing space with several new products, including two routers.

The Arista WAN Routing System comprises the AWE-5000 Series routers: AWE-5510 and AWE-5310. In addition, it has introduced Pathfinder, the software service for WAN routing for its CloudVision platform. 

It’s a first for the company, making it clear that the ambitious manufacturer is ready to target software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) use cases with these new routers.

This particular use case, especially for aggregator and end-point routers, has been dominated by Cisco. However, the new Arista routers, along with EOS, its network OS, and CloudVision, its NetOps management platform, provide data centers and service providers with an alternative. 

This article explores the new Arista 5000 Series routers and compares them with existing solutions from other vendors. 

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Arista Steps into WAN Routing Focusing on SD-WAN

With the new suite of products, Arista is specifically targeting users who are already relying on SD-WAN or adopting it. 

The SD-WAN-ready routers and Pathfinder are bridging the gap in their products and services. Although the functions or features are not limited to SD-WAN, they highlight this particular use case. After all, SD-WAN is a big market right now, growing exponentially. 

Furthermore, they’re partnering with Equinix, deploying Transit Hubs on the company’s Equinix Network Edge and Bare Metal Cloud platforms. 

The company targets multiple WAN use cases, including Enterprise-class routing systems, aggregation and edge routing, flexible edge routing, and dual-modality (both traditional WAN and SD-WAN routers). 

They’re most suitable for WAN edge routing and aggregation and run on the same EOS operating system as the other devices in the Arista portfolio. Of course, for anyone already using Arista products in their networks, adopting these WAN routers shouldn’t be too much deliberation. However, with the programmability of EOS, these routers can easily fit in a multi-vendor environment, with the likes of Cisco and Juniper in the mix. 

Arista AWE-5510 and AWE-5310 Router Overview

Arista is releasing two routers as part of the 5000 Series, particularly focusing on routing on WAN edge and aggregation points. 


  • The AWE-5510 features 50GB Encrypted Throughput, 16x 10G Ethernet ports (SFP+), and 4x NIM Expansion Slots. 
  • The AWE-5310 features 5GB Encrypted Throughput, 4x RJ45 (1/2.5G/10G) Ethernet ports (2x Port FTW), 4x SFP+ (1/2.5G/10G) Ethernet ports, and 2x NIM Expansion Slots. 
  • Both routers run on the Arista EOS operating system and CloudVision Pathfinder service, and can work with Transit Hubs to enable software-controlled traffic.
  • Both routers have multiple security features, including Auto VPN, IPSec VPNs, and port-based DOS protection. 

AWE-5510 is a 16-port model, whereas AWE-5310 is a four-port model. Both support 1/10/100 GbE interfaces. The larger 5510 can handle encrypted throughput of over 50GB, whereas the other 5310 can handle a throughput of 5GB. Both support AES256 encrypted bidirectional traffic. 

The 5510 has 16 10G ethernet ports and four NIM expansion slots. The 5310 has four RJ45 ethernet ports, four SFP+ ethernet ports, and two NIM expansion slots. 

The 5510 is intended for data centers, campuses, and high-performance edge architectures. On the other hand, the 5310 is intended for high-volume edge connectivity for the internet. 

Both WAN platforms run on EOS and feature N+1 redundant power and cooling. Other notable features include AutoVPN, Dynamic Path Selection, and ISSU for software upgrades. 

As for security features, aside from AutoVPN, the routers also support IPSec VPNs, Ingree/Egress ACLs using L3, L4 field, ACL logging and counters, port-based DOS protection, role-based access control (RBAC), TACACS+, RADIUS authentication, authorization, and accounting. 

While these routers can be used in traditional WAN capacity, the highlight is the Pathfinder service they come with, which enables some key capabilities, including SD-WAN.

The WAN Fabric enables secure transport from one to another through encryption. The Adaptive Virtual Topology is a network abstraction layer over the WAN Fabric that enables enterprises to implement specific network policies. 

With the addition of Transit Hubs, whether physical or virtual, enterprises can use a traffic engineering system, which includes Path Computation Engine. This technology determines the best path for data transfer for different applications. 

The routers will be available from the summer of 2023. 

What Are the Alternatives?

Considering their edge and aggregation use case, the alternatives for the new Arista 5000 Series routers include Cisco ASR1001X and ASR1002HX from the ASR 1000 Series.

Another plausible alternative is the Cisco Integrated Services Router ISR 4000 Series, which supports voice applications that Arista routers don’t yet support. 

The ASR1001x and ASR1002x are aggregation service routers that are SD-WAN ready. Of course, these can be coupled with Cisco DNA software for SD-WAN routing.

However, these two routers have been discontinued since mid-2022. The newer Cisco Catalyst 8500 Series routers are supposed to succeed the two ASR 1000 Series routers. 

The 8500 Series Edge Platforms C8500L-8S4X or C8500-12X are the direct competitors of these new Arista routers. The C8500-20X6C offers 12 1/10GE ports, whereas  C8500-12X offers four 1/10GE ports and eight 1GE ports.

These routers feature the new third-generation quantum flow processors (QFP). Like Arista’s offering, the Cisco 8500 Series routers also have N+1 power redundancy. 

The C8500L-8S4X or C8500-12X edge platforms have integrated security, including secure unique device identification (SUDI) that identifies the identity of any connecting hardware or software. So these two arguably have more cutting-edge security features. 

Cisco routers run on the Cisco IOS, which isn’t very different from Arista’s EOS. 

Arista’s 5000 Series routers are pretty solid for aggregation and edge routing purposes, especially when leveraged with their complete WAN Routing System. They can integrate with networks already using Cisco equipment or any other OEM for that matter. 

Although they offer reliable encryption and security protocols, you may still need to beef up security at the edges. 

The Verdict

Arista is branching out and tapping into the SD-WAN market with its latest WAN Routing System. The company has introduced hardware and software offerings to dip its toes in SD-WAN and offer enterprises an easy way to adopt the technology. It leverages its cloud-friendly EOS operating system and adds Pathfinder service to the existing CloudVision platform. 

The two router models cater to different sizes of enterprises, with the AWE-5510 designed for more demanding data center usage. Both models support all the necessary WAN features and are SD-WAN ready, making them suitable for enterprises going through their ‘software-defined’ transformation. 

If you’re already using the Cisco ASR Series edge platforms and looking to refresh once they reach the end of support, the Arista 5000 Series routers are a viable option. 

PivIT can be your procurement partner whether you’re looking for Arista or Cisco network equipment. Reach out today to learn how PivIT can help you save on your next purchase of routers!

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