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Net veterans prep networks for data onslaught

Andy Bechtolsheim's Arista Networks is working on a data-routing switch that promises to help avoid networking disasters.

Andy Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and more recently co-founder of Arista Networks. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Two Internet veterans are spending hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to ensure that networks are prepared for the onslaught of online traffic expected in coming years.

Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, and David Cheriton, a computer science professor at Stanford University, founded Arista Networks to shore up the Internet's reliability, according to a New York Times report. The pair, who were among the first investors in Google, have committed $100 million toward the effort.

A coming explosion in transactions in an online world 100 times faster than today's will lead to a greater number of accidents, the story says, citing as a precedent a partial failure at Amazon Web Services' cloud-computing infrastructure earlier this year that brought down some Internet operations, including the Web sites of Quora and Reddit.

The common 1-gigabit-per-second connection for servers is quickly evolving into 10-gigabit connections, thanks to improvements in chip design and software. Even faster speeds are already in use for specialty functions, and a standard for a terabit-per-second connection, 1,000 gigabits, is expected in about 7 years.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, which has 250 employees--167 of them engineers--is working on a data-routing switch that can repair problems without shutting down the network, the newspaper reported. The system, which is designed to run on inexpensive chips, is described as a great departure from the way networking has been done for the past quarter century.

"We think of the Internet as always there," Cheriton told the Times. "Just because we've become dependent on it, that doesn't mean it's true."