Brocade Spins Off SDN Controller Into Lumina

Craig Matsumoto

Brocade is spinning off its SDN controller into a startup called Lumina Networks, tying up what appears to be the final loose end that's in the way of its acquisition by Broadcom. (See Lumina Networks Joins SDN Controller Party .)

Lumina Networks launched today, backed by what CEO Andrew Coward calls an "eclectic" group of private investors. It's likely the company will seek out a Series A "within the next year," he says, "but we've got enough to get off the table."

Because it's based on a viable Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) product, Lumina is starting life with a revenue stream and some large carriers as customers, says Coward, who was formerly Brocade's vice president of strategy. "We don't have to create the market."

About three years ago, the Brocade controller started as an OpenDaylight distribution -- that is, as Brocade's implementation of OpenDaylight's open source controller. Brocade's strategy, in contrast to other vendors such as Cisco, was to build a purely open source SDN offering. The company envisioned a Red Hat-like business model selling commercial versions of the software, but the difficulties of merging the new software with legacy equipment proved to be too much, Coward says. (See Brocade Wants to Be Red Hat of OpenDaylight.)

Instead, Brocade set up an implementation team to help customers deploy the controller. That team is called Network Development, or NetDev, and it's the initial moneymaker for Lumina. The customer base tends to be carrier teams that have become familiar with OpenDaylight in the lab but have trouble translating that work into the real world.

"We talk to people who think they needed automation, and what they really wanted was a level of abstraction," Coward says. Specifically, they want an element like an SDN controller to operate across all vendors' equipment. Coward says Lumina's role would be to help that happen -- bringing the technology out of the lab and into the real world, in other words.

One difficulty is that scripts and business logic don't translate from one vendor's products to another's -- that's where common information models will become important. "AT&T has done the industry a service by pushing Netconf and YANG," Coward says, citing the configuration protocol and modeling language that could help multiple vendors' equipment speak the same tongue.

In addition to the SDN controller, Lumina is offering two applications: Lumina Flow Manager for traffic engineering and Lumina Zero-Touch Installer for automatically configuring devices such as virtual CPE instances.

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) is in the process of acquiring Brocade, with a closing date that's now delayed until the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Brocade has been busy divesting various pieces, some of which represent potential conflicts of interest for Broadcom. Here's how it's broken out so far:

Table 1: Brocade Businesses' New Homes

Brocade Business Buyer
Data center networking Extreme Networks
Ruckus Wireless Arris Networks
Vyatta & vRouter AT&T
Virtual ADC Pulse Secure
Connectem (vEPC) Mavenir
Source: Light Reading.

For more on the Broadcom deal and the fates of those pieces, see:

— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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