SDN Technology

Brocade Wants to Be Red Hat of OpenDaylight

DÜSSELDORF -- SDN & OpenFlow World Congress -- Brocade wants to have the same relationship with OpenDaylight as Red Hat has with Linux.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), which recently introduced the OpenDaylight-based Vyatta SDN controller, sees its role as debugging OpenDaylight, adding additional capabilities, and packaging the whole thing with support services for carriers, Kelly Herrell, VP and GM of the Brocade software networking business unit, told Light Reading in a one-on-one interview at the conference here. (See Brocade Debuts OpenDaylight SDN Controller and Brocade Weaves Software-Based Networking Strategy .)

"At the end of the day, an open source project produces code. It doesn't produce product," Herrell said. "It's the difference between a bunch of parts that you can put together to make a 747 and buying a 747."

A vendor like Brocade uses an open source project as a foundation, adding features, writing documentation and providing deployment and prduction support, Herrell said.

"Red Hat's role in Linux is to stand between the coding frenzy and the production environment that the customer needs. That's the same role that Brocade has with OpenDaylight," Herrell said.

Why go to Brocade rather than another vendor? One reason is that Brocade is developing pure ODL; it's not forking the code to make it proprietary. "You can't steal the soul of an open source development project by forking the code and running away with it," Herrell said.

Brocade is a Platinum sponsor of the OpenDaylight Project. It contributes significant development staff. When it changes the OpenDaylight code, it contributes those changes back into the OpenDaylight Project's development process. "Brocade has a model of feeding back to OpenDaylight," Herrell said.

Open source fits Brocade's strategic direction of giving its customers freedom of choice. "If you put your hands over your eyes and give a single vendor your checkbook, you get only what they give you," Herrell said. Open APIs and open source give network operators a path to switching vendors if their current vendor doesn't fill their needs.

By implementing open source, network operators can make hardware and software choices independently of each other, Herrell said.

And open source and standard hardware permit faster innovation than proprietary technology. For example, Intel innovates chips on a six-month cycle, compared with a three-year cycle for proprietary hardware. Intel improves performance 10x-20x over the same time that proprietary technology only doubles, Herell said. OpenDaylight is on a six-month release cycle as well. (See OpenDaylight Releases Major 'Helium' Upgrade.)

Need to know more about the management of network assets and applications in an SDN and NFV environment? Then check out the agenda for OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV: Evolution vs Revolution, November 6, at the Thistle Marble Arch Hotel, London.

Faster innovation is integral to Brocade's vision of "The New IP." "The new IP is about agility, deploying new services to customers in minutes rather than months," Herrell said. Open source and standards let operators assemble networks out of best-of-breed components and rapidly assemble proofs-of-concept to deploy new technology. (See Brocade: There's Something About the Cloud and Introducing 'The New IP' .)

But Brocade faces tough competition in trying to become the Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) of OpenDaylight. Nine other companies are also Platinum sponsors of OpenDaylight, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Other Platinum members, Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), are pursuing similar open source SDN strategies to Brocade's.

And Red Hat itself is an OpenDaylight Platinum member. It's tough to be the Red Hat of anything when Red Hat is already there.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

TomNolle 10/23/2014 | 3:08:45 PM
Re: It May Be a Question of Business Model I don't think that it's ever premature to set a market goal, Sam.  Most of the time people wait too long.  I think others like Red Hat themselves and VMware are likely to contest Brocade's efforts to be sure!  But that's why I make the business-model concept.  You don't achieve the position of "Red Hat of ODL" just by saying you want it, you have to create something that can solve a large number of buyer problems.  I don't think ODL by itself will do that.  Will Red Hat or VMware push for the rest of the solution faster than Brocade will?  That's what I think will decide the race.
sam masud 10/23/2014 | 3:04:49 PM
Re: It May Be a Question of Business Model Tom,


Don't you think it's a bit premature for Brocade to be saying it wants to be the Red Hat of the ODL controllers? What about VMware (also a platinum member of ODL), which I understand is pushing OpenStack-based policy management management because it belives that if you own policy, you own the account...?
TomNolle 10/23/2014 | 9:45:44 AM
It May Be a Question of Business Model Brocade's big hope here may be that its business model, its plan for market success, is more congruent with SDN and NFV applications of ODL than those of its main (and as you point out, sometimes better entrenched) competitors.  Unlike OpenStack, for example, ODL isn't a complete solution to either SDN or NFV even though it's probably a key component of both.  Buyers will need that complete solution, and if Brocade can assemble it and get out in front of describing what's really needed, they could become the preferred ODL integrator.  If not....
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