Brocade Gives Organizations More Control Over SDN Traffic

The vendor's Flow Optimizer software enables customers to more easily detect and mitigate traffic issues like congestion and DDoS attacks.

network traffic

Brocade is introducing software that will help enterprises and service providers better manage and protect their software-defined networks.

The company on June 9 launched its Flow Optimizer application, which is designed to work with OpenDaylight-based controllers for software-defined networks (SDNs) to analyze the traffic flowing through the network and address a range of performance issues, from cyber-attacks to congestion.

The application, when used with Brocade's MLXe routers, can help customers better understand the traffic running over their networks, detect anomalous patterns and behaviors, and proactively mitigate problems that may hurt the end-user experience, according to Sultan Dawood, product marketing manager at Brocade.

It comes as enterprise and service provider networks continue to undergo significant transitions caused by the rise of cloud computing as well as such trends as IT mobility, big data analytics and social software. Those present significant challenges, from capacity planning and network utilization to the need for real-time information about what's going on in the network, Dawood told eWEEK.

SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) are designed to help address those challenges by making the network more agile, dynamic and programmable. However, in a real-time environment, what's also crucial is getting the necessary information and being able to immediately analyze and act on it, he said.

"There is a level of network intelligence that's missing," Dawood said.

IT and service provider professionals need greater visibility, control and the ability to automatically respond to traffic problems, from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to traffic going to such social networks as Facebook and Twitter.

The Flow Optimizer, which manages Layer 2-4 traffic, is designed to enable enterprises to respond to such issues by reprioritizing and redirecting DDoS attack traffic or throttling bandwidth-intensive workloads that might not be work-related, according Dawood. For service providers, the application also enables them to better understand the network traffic coming from disparate customers and more efficiently sending it to the right destination, he said.

According to Dawood, the software can run on any x86 server and leverages SDN controllers based on OpenDaylight specifications. Brocade has its own OpenDaylight-based controller—the Vyatta Controller, which the company is offering free for a year—but Flow Optimizer also can work with OpenDaylight controllers from other vendors, such as Ciena and Extreme Networks. The controller sends the information from the Flow Optimizer to switches using the OpenFlow SDN protocol, he said.

The software supports REST APIs for integration with third-party cloud orchestration offerings and a Web-based GUI that includes dashboards for real-time event logging and detailed traffic data.

The Flow Optimizer is available now, with pricing based on a perpetual software license. Capacity for up to 20GB of traffic management starts at $4,995, while capacity for up to 200GB is priced at $12,995.

In addition to the application, Brocade is rolling out the latest version of its network operating system, NetIron OS 5.9, for the MLXe routers. The new OS—which will be available in the third quarter free to MLX customers—offers new OpenFlow features that, combined with Brocade's VersaScale programmable forwarding architecture and Flow Optimizer, will give customers tools to not only improve visibility into the network but also simplify forwarding control, according to company officials.

Brocade has been aggressively building out its SDN capabilities as it looks to compete with heavyweights such as Cisco Systems and VMware. The vendor's architecture not only includes the Flow Optimizer, Vyatta SDN controller and MLXe routers, but also ICX campus switches. Brocade also is embracing such open-source efforts as OpenFlow and OpenDaylight, while embracing APIs that allow for integration with third-party systems, officials said.

Brocade's Flow Optimizer comes a day after Cisco unveiled an array of offerings designed to bring security to all parts of the network to ward off increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks.