Brocade Expands VCS Fabric, Intros SDN-Enabled Switch

The company is continuing to move aggressively to grow its network virtualization capabilities, which began in 2012 with its Vyatta acquisition.


On the same day that Brocade Communications Systems announced it was buying Riverbed Technology's virtual application delivery product to bolster its network virtualization capabilities, the vendor also pushed forward with its software-defined networking ambitions.

Brocade officials on Feb. 5 said the company is bolstering its VCS networking fabric with a new high-density switch in its VDX product family that can be automatically deployed in less than a minute, and is bringing support for Brocade's Vyatta Controller as well as third-party controllers based on OpenDaylight standards, and Puppet and Python scripting.

The company also will continue contributing to the OpenStack cloud orchestration project and working with VMware, officials said.

The moves are part of a larger effort by Brocade to drive the adoption of software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) in the enterprise and with service providers. Brocade entered the network virtualization fray in a big way in 2012 when it bought Vyatta, and after spending almost two years bringing the various pieces of the strategy together, came out last year with its Vyatta Platform to create a modular and open networking portfolio. It leverages not only the company's own technologies, but also embraces the work being done through such open-source projects as OpenDaylight and OpenStack.

Companies will need such open, software-based technologies to adapt to the rapid changes occurring in the business world, according to Brocade officials.

"As the rise of the third platform—including cloud, mobile, social, and big data—accelerates, organizations are encountering new requirements and challenges that cannot be addressed with legacy network architectures that were designed for client-server environments," Jason Nolet, senior vice president of the vendor's Data Center Switching, Routing and Analytics Products Group, said in a statement. "Networks must transform from a siloed, static design to an agile, on-demand infrastructure that is automated via data center orchestration frameworks and programmability."

Brocade's new VDX 6940 switch is aimed at scale-out architectures and can be deployed in multiple modes, including as a spine or leaf switch. It offers zero-touch provisioning for rapid deployment, and through Brocade's VCS Logical Chassis businesses can manage as many as 48 of the switches as a single logical switch. With the support for third-party SDN controllers, OpenStack and VMware technologies, organizations can more easily integrate VDX infrastructures into their data centers, according to officials.

With Brocade's upcoming release of its Network OS (NOS) 6.0, its VDX switches will integrate with the vendor's Vyatta Controller and third-party controllers, due to its support of OpenFlow 1.3. Brocade officials last month announced the company was offering the OpenDaylight-based Vyatta Controller as a free download for a year in hopes of jump-starting adoption of the technology.

Also through NOS 6.0, Brocade is putting support for Puppet and Python scripting throughout the VDX switch family and is enhancing the VCS Gateway for VMware's NSX network virtualization platform by enabling the VCS fabric to be used as a VXLAN gateway for greater reliability and performance.

In addition, the company is contributing VCS Layer 3 functionality to the OpenStack Project's upcoming Kilo release and is offerings its IP Analytics and Content Pack for VMware's vRealize Operations for systems management.

The switches' enhancements and new VDX switch will be available in March.

The enhancements to the VDX switches dovetail with Brocade's planned acquisition of Riverbed's SteelApp virtual application delivery controller technology, which Kelly Herrell, senior vice president and general manager of Brocade's software networking business, said pushes forward the company's SDN and NFV efforts.

"The addition of Riverbed's worldwide SteelApp business into our industry-leading portfolio of data center software networking products reinforces Brocade's vision and demonstrates our continued resolve to lead the industry as software solutions penetrate the IP networking industry," Herrell wrote in a post on the company blog.