Brocade has unveiled an SDN controller based on the open source developments taking place at the OpenDaylight community.
The move is part of the vendor's efforts to show network operators that it can deliver relevant technology and support as networks become more software-oriented. The Vyatta Controller is designed to provide network operators with the flexibility of programmable networks, using open source to minimize vendor lock-in.
The Vyatta Controller controls switches, routers, firewalls, VPNs, load balancers and other elements of the network in both virtual and physical network environments. (See Brocade Launches Vyatta SDN Controller.)
The controller works with multivendor networks, so operators don't need to lock themselves in to a single vendor's products or rip and replace existing products to put in new technology, says Kelly Herrell, VP and GM of the software networking business unit at Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD).
"Customers want to be able to exert influence on the vendor community, instead of the other way around," Herrell says, extolling the virtues of open source.
But customers also want a vendor that can take care of their problems. That's the role Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) plays with Linux, and one that Brocade wants to play with open source network controllers, Herrell says.
Enabling the New IP
The Vyatta Controller is a milestone in Brocade's bid to become a player in the "New IP" world. Carriers and enterprises require agile, flexible, and programmable networks to meet the demands of mobile broadband, big data analytics and cloud services. These networks use mobile devices and apps, with billions of users and millions of apps, Herrell says. (See Introducing 'The New IP' , Brocade Weaves Software-Based Networking Strategy and The New IP.)
Herrell articulated Brocade's vision -- minus the information about the Vyatta Controller -- at Light Reading's NFV and the Data Center event in Santa Clara, Calif., last week. (See Brocade: There's Something About the Cloud.)
Conventional ways of managing networks, using CLIs, GUIs and manual configuration processes, just don't scale to the demands of the New IP. Instead, by using SDN applications, operators gain the ability to configure the network on the fly. Operators and partners will be able to write applications for custom analytics and compliance, big data, security, QoS and traffic management, Herrell says.
In its early stages, SDN was conflated with OpenFlow, which is "incredibly narrow and myopic," Herrell says. OpenFlow controllers by design only control switches; OpenDaylight's code, and therefore the Vyatta Controller, do a lot more, he says.
The controller will be available November 21, along with Path Explorer, a topology-awareness application to optimize traffic flows. Another SDN app, Volumetric Traffic Management, is due early next year, designed to help users manage DDoS attacks as well as legitimate traffic surges -- or "elephant flows" -- in the data center, Brocade says.
In addition to flexibility and programmability, New IP networks require elasticity -- the ability to scale up and down according to needs. "In the old world, you planned for the capacity you'd need in year or two," Herrell says. "Now, you buy what you need and scale up or scale down."
Open source software running on Intel hardware gives operators that kind of elasticity, because it's so inexpensive compared with proprietary technology, and can scale based on need, notes Herrell.
For example, Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) benchmarked the Vyatta 5600 vRouter at 80 Gbit/s, matching the performance levels required for carrier applications and setting a benchmark that supports NFV deployment. (See Telefónica Proves Brocade Router Performs for NFV.)
The benchmark demonstrates that the virtual router can scale up or down as needed. It "can shrink as small as something that runs on a single Intel core or run across farms of servers," Herrell says. "The whole thing fits on a thumb drive."
Next page: Marching with OpenDaylight and going beyond Layer 3