Brocade Pushes SDN Strategy With Software-Only Network Appliances

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Brocade delivers software-only network appliances to push SDN forward

Brocade has made a host of software defined networking (SDN) announcements, including software-only network appliances that can run on-demand, as well as an upgrade of its network hardware.

Under the brand “On-Demand Data Centre”, Brocade has launched virtual routers, based on its acquisition of Vyatta last year,  and the Virtual ADX, an application delivery switch (what used to be called a load balancer), both of which are delivered as software and can be run on any x86-based hardware, and virtual machines.

It also launched a new 40Gb Ethernet core router module, and delivered more OpenStack compliant networking software for orchestration and management.


Delivering on SDN

“These aren’t designs or concepts, they are fully available from the day we announce them,” said Marcus Jewell, head of Western Europe at Brocade. “We are ahead of the competition in having orderable software components in a planned strategy.”

While many vendors support OpenFlow as a concept,  rivals like Cisco like to extend the concept and keep their claws in the hardware.

The Brocade vRouter is an update on the open-source router which Vyatta was selling for some years before Brocade bought it. Jewell assured TechWeekEurope the Vyatta routers would continue to be open source in future.

The router is used in data centres and public clouds, and has been  deployed on Amazon’s cloud among others, said Jewell.

The Virtual ADX is designed to support multiple applications in a data centre environment, making sure each one has the network resources it needs. Load balancers have traditionally run on standard x86 hardware, but by making them available as software only, Brocade is allowing customers to spin up as much load balancing ability as they need at a given time, said Jewell.

“SDN allows you to have the network capacity you need for your demands at a given time,” Jewell told TechWeekEurope.  “Networks are still monolithically deployed which means you have overcapacity at first, then have a period of 1 to 2 years of optimal operation, and then run over cap. That’s not efficient and it’s not acceptable.”

Brocade’s hardware announcements mean it’s not moving to be a software-only vendor. “Hardware needs to be developed,” he said. Brocade’s four-port 40GbE module integrates with the company’s VCS fabric to offer 40GbE end-to-end in a data centre.

Brocade also added some carrier-grade NetIron CER routers, which take 10GbE cheaply to the edge of providers’ networks.

The firm’s hardware also got upgraded support for SDN software – the OpenFlow hybrid port mode technology is supported on the new version of its NetIron software, so customers can combine traditional routing with OpenFlow based SDN on the same  port, easing the migration to SDN.

Finally, another VCS router plug-in adds more orchestration features, supporting OpenStack.

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