Brocade today announced the availability of its Vyatta Controller, an OpenDaylight-based, open source SDN controller designed to give network operators the benefits of a programmable infrastructure without vendor lock-in.
The software is designed to allow services providers and enterprises to explore SDN "without investing in expensive and time-consuming hardware acquisitions or software integrations," proclaims Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) in a statement.
Network operators can download the software for a free one-year trial period supporting up to five virtual or physical non-commercial network nodes, with 60 days of 24x7 tech support. For companies wanting to use the Vyatta Controller in a commercial network, the production license is $100 per attached node per year, including support.
"This is a continuation of our embrace of this lovely thing called the 'new IP,'" says Kelly Herrell, Brocade VP and GM of the software networking business unit.
The New IP is Brocade's catchphrase for agile, flexible, and programmable networks that can meet the demands of mobile broadband, big data analytics and cloud services. Existing networks require manual reconfiguration that take days or weeks, but next-generation networks will need to be reconfigured nearly on demand. (See Introducing 'The New IP' .)
Announced in September, the Vyatta Controller is based on work done at the OpenDaylight Project. It's fully OpenDaylight compatible, hardened for production use, with added consulting and training services available to network operators from Brocade. The vendor is a Platinum member of the OpenDaylight development team, and feeds its improvements in the software back to the open source project. (See Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller.)
The Vyatta Controller can manage switches, routers, firewalls, VPNs, load balancers and other elements of both virtual and physical networks. Because it is entirely based on OpenDaylight without proprietary extensions, apps written for the Vyatta Controller will run on any other OpenDaylight controller, of which there are many. (See Who Does What: SDN Controllers.)
The Vyatta Controller is designed to give network operators a "smooth onramp into the SDN world," says Herrell. "It's easy to get your hands on it. It's freely downloadable. It does not require a rip-and-replace model in the infrastructure; it can speak to multiple network devices in the infrastructure already."
Brocade also introduced the Brocade Vyatta Controller Developer Edition, providing templates, libraries, testing environments and other tools "to help developers quickly write and test SDN applications and easily deploy them into service," Brocade says in its statement.
Simultaneous with rolling out the software, Brocade is introducing technical support services and training, and is launching an online community on Github for developing apps that will work with the controller. Customers receive 60 days of tech support services free, including maintenance releases, deployment guidance, and problem resolution, Herrell says.
Online and face-to-face education will include certification programs, as well as courses for network engineers that want to create custom applications.
Brocade intends the service to be used by a range of customers across various sectors, including communications service providers, enterprises, federal organizations, and cloud providers.
Avoiding vendor lock-in is a key differentiator for the Vyatta Controller, Herrell says. "The ecosystem is exploding with innovation from small and large companies alike. You can see the motivation to not get locked in."
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) have built market leadership around their proprietary platforms; Brocade is attempting to gain market share with an open approach.
The Brocade approach is credible, because it's "not protecting an existing router franchise like some of the other established networking vendors," says Heavy Reading analyst Roz Roseboro.
Brocade isn't alone among vendors pursuing a community-led approach to building an ecosystem, but it may be the largest of them, Roseboro says. The community-led approach is "how it's supposed to work. We'll see how it works in practice. They are, after all, running a business at the end of the day."
She adds: "I am particularly happy to see the new emphasis on professional services. It is still really, really early days for SDN, and there is still a lot of uncertainty about business case, deployment models, integration and management challenges. Anything Brocade can do to help operators along the transformation journey will be well-received."
And providing those service is "a much stickier proposition than selling gear," which could help fuel future growth for Brocade.