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.)
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.