Brocade Buys StackStorm for IT Automation

The networking company wants to give customers the same DevOps experience in data centers that cloud giants like Amazon and Facebook have.

IT automation

Brocade officials want to expand the company's capabilities of bringing greater automation to its networking portfolio.

The networking vendor is buying StackStorm, a startup in the IT automation software field that officials said will enable Brocade customers to use DevOps methods to bring greater scalability, agility and flexibility to their IT environments.

No financial details about the deal were released.

"DevOps is gaining rapid adoption in scale-out data centers," P.G. Menon, senior director of technology and strategy, switching, routing and analytics at Brocade, wrote in a post on the company blog. "By treating infrastructure as code, and incorporating software tools for continuous integration and continuous deployment, many data centers are adopting DevOps methods to achieve business agility. These methods are now widely accepted for managing data center resources such as compute, storage, and virtualization, but have yet to see broad adoption to manage networking."

Brocade hopes to change that with the acquisition of StackStorm, which offers a namesake open-source and event-driven automation platform that brings together every component of the IT environment. StackStorm came out of stealth mode in 2014 after forming a year earlier. The company's portfolio also includes Flow, a visual workflow designer for the software automation platform.

StackStorm offers a free Community edition of its software, which comes with sensors, native ChatOps support, workflows, a Web GUI and "if this than that" rules. It also sells StackStorm Enterprise, a paid platform that includes everything in the Community edition as well as Flow, role-based access control, built-in integration packs and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) integration.

In January, the Palo Alto, Calif., company rolled out version 1.3.0 of the StackStorm platform.

"StackStorm is joining Brocade to help accelerate the company's efforts to bring DevOps style scalable open source automation to Brocade's networking solutions," executives at StackStorm—including founder and CEO Evan Powell—wrote in a post on the company blog. "Under Brocade, the StackStorm technology will be extended to networking and new integrations will be developed for automation across IT domains such as storage, compute, and security."

They also wrote that they are "confident the StackStorm community will continue to flourish and you will see an even larger StackStorm team collaborating with the community."

Brocade is far from the only data center technology company to be pursuing IT automation capabilities. With the rise of such trends as workforce mobility, big data, virtualization and the cloud, vendors from Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to Dell and Red Hat are expanding their portfolios to include more IT automation software to help customers gain greater speed, agility and scalability.

In his blog post, Brocade's Menon noted that large hyperscale players like Amazon and Facebook aggressively implement IT automation in their own environments, but added that most enterprises don't have the same large staffs of in-house software developers to create their own automation software. Brocade's acquisition of StackStorm will enable customers to get similar levels of automation capabilities without having to hire a lot of developers.

"Using StackStorm technology, Brocade customers will be able to bring DevOps methods to networking as well as experience many of the benefits of scale-out IT automation enjoyed by the Cloud Titans," he wrote. "Simply put, achieving business agility through DevOps methods for IT automation that also includes networking is no longer limited to Cloud Titans. Every IT shop will be able to realize those same benefits."