Brocade Buying Vyatta, Broadening SDN Efforts

Brocade, which has been aggressive in expanding its SDN portfolio, is bolstering its plans with the acquisition of Vyatta.

Brocade is expanding its software-defined networking capabilities by buying Vyatta, whose products and operating system touch on network virtualization, SDNs, and both private and public clouds.

The acquisition, announced Nov. 5, will boost Brocade’s efforts to become a leader in the booming SDN and network virtualization market, which is seeing growing activity among both established networking vendors like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks, and smaller startups like Big Switch Networks and Adara.

Other infrastructure players that previously had little or no presence in the networking segment, such as VMware (which bought Nicira) and Oracle (which acquired Xsigo), also are looking to leverage the SDN push to gain traction in the space. The purchase of Vyatta will help Brocade in its efforts to rise above the increasingly competitive field, according to Brocade officials.

"We are now bolstering these 'build and partner' efforts with this strategic acquisition with the goal of being the innovation and thought leader in the software networking category," Brocade CEO Mike Klayko said in a statement.

In a Nov. 5 post on the Brocade blog, Ken Cheng, vice president and general manager of Brocade’s IP Products Division, said the deal for Vyatta is only the latest step by his company to rapidly grow its SDN portfolio.

“One of the most exciting things about this announcement is that Brocade is already the leader in Ethernet fabrics, which serve as the foundation for the cloud and simplify the physical infrastructure of the network,” Cheng wrote. “Brocade’s Ethernet fabric technologies combined with Vyatta’s software networking solutions offer the ideal platform to empower SDN deployments where flexibility, mobility and rapid deployment are paramount requirements. By combining the assets from this acquisition with our own internal development and our broad strategic partnerships, we believe our strategy is going to be a strong competitive differentiator as the world of hardware and software continues to blur.”

Neither company released financial details of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year.

SDN and network virtualization are key data center trends, complementing the virtualization around servers and storage that already are well under way. SDNs essentially separate the data and control planes, taking many of the networking tasks now performed on complex hardware—such as directing traffic, minimizing latency and security—and doing them in software instead, making networks much easier to program, less costly, and more flexible and scalable.

In a video on Vyatta’s Website talking about the acquisition, Vyatta CEO Kelly Herrell said the demand for SDN has been driven by the wide adoption of server virtualization, which fuels the need for greater flexibility in the infrastructure. Noting that more than half the world’s servers are now virtualized, Herrell said that “an entirely new and rapidly growing customer need has developed for SDN. … SDN does not displace physical networking. It complements it by extending into the new virtualized applications zones to provide highly granular controls that are flexible and adapt easily to change.”

Vyatta has been around since 2005, and its open Vyatta Network OS operating system is designed to work in most virtual and cloud environments. The OS offers everything from dynamic routing and firewall to VPN support and traffic management. According to Vyatta’s Herrell, there have been more than 1 million downloads of the OS, and there are more than 1,000 customer networks running Vyatta technology.

Brocade officials intend to incorporate Vyatta’s technology to create a complete infrastructure architecture that leverages network virtualization, aimed at both enterprises and service providers. The Vyatta group will become part of Brocade’s Software Networking Business Unit, reporting to Cheng.

Brocade has been aggressive this year in growing its SDN capabilities. In September, the company rolled out a host of new products designed for SDN environments, and a month later hired David Meyer, a 15-year Cisco veteran who has been focusing on SDNs and the OpenFlow protocol, as its CTO and chief scientist.