Brocade Launches Latest Open SDN Controller

The vendor is basing the product on the OpenDaylight Project's Lithium release while also releasing two supporting SDN apps.


Brocade is expanding its network virtualization portfolio with the latest version of its software-defined network controller, which is based on the new open-source Lithium release from the OpenDaylight Project.

Brocade SDN Controller 2.0 offers a range of new features to help organizations more easily scale and manage their data center infrastructure. At the same time, the company also rolled out two new SDN applications that will give customers better visibility into their networks.

Brocade has been building up its SDN capabilities since 2012, when it bought Vyatta, a move that brought with it the technology that led to the development of the company's SDN controller. Since then, Brocade has added more network virtualization capabilities and has closely tied the development of the controller to the OpenDaylight Project.

OpenDaylight, an industry consortium hosted by the Linux Foundation, launched in 2013 to help develop a common, open platform to help accelerate the adoption and deployment of SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) by enterprises and telecommunications vendors. Both technologies aim to enable users to build networks that are more programmable, agile, dynamic and affordable by moving the control plane and various networking tasks from expensive underlying hardware and into software that can run on cheaper commodity systems.

Some vendors involved in the project are taking aspects of what is developed there and putting them into software that will run on their own systems. Brocade officials are taking another tack, closely tying the development of their SDN controller to the evolution of the OpenDaylight work, Lisa Caywood, senior product marketing manager at Brocade, told eWEEK. The previous version of Brocade SDN Controller was based on OpenDaylight's earlier Helium release.

Open controllers can more easily be embraced by customers, will ensure that Brocade's products will work with third-party offerings and won't tie them to particular vendors, Caywood said. In addition, by staying in lock-step with OpenDaylight, anything new and interesting coming out of the project can be put into the latest release of the controller, she said.

Linking the controller so closely to the OpenDaylight work "is best for us and our customers," Caywood said.

Brocade officials point to a recent survey conducted by Heavy Reading that found that 90 percent of respondents said an open SDN controller that includes support for multiple vendors is important to their plans to deploy SDN.

For Brocade SDN Controller 2.0, the company is enhancing the interface to the Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB) and to the OpenStack Modular Layer 2 plug-in, which is certified for Red Hat's Juno enterprise distribution. The moves will enable cloud providers to use an open software stack to manage their data center infrastructures, according to the vendor. Brocade also is embracing the clustering capabilities in the Lithium release to improve scalability and stability in network infrastructures. In addition, Brocade is introducing a new user interface for applications that is more flexible and intuitive, Caywood said.

"All of our Brocade-based apps going forward will have this interface," she said.

The company in June released its Flow Optimizer application, which is designed to work with OpenDaylight-based SDN controllers to analyze the traffic flowing through the network and address a range of performance issues, from cyber-attacks to congestion. The new Brocade SDN Controller supports the application to better manage traffic flow and more proactively deter network attacks. The new apps will complement the new controller, Caywood said.

The Brocade Topology Manager is a free app that offers a view of discovered network topology, enabling network administrators to not only develop a list of nodes but also run relatively simple searches for nodes. The Brocade Flow Manager takes those capabilities farther by enabling organizations to use near-real-time data and end-to-end flow views through the network topology to run traffic engineering and network segmentation tasks.

The Brocade SDN Controller 2.0 and two new apps are available immediately. Customers can get a free 60-day download that they can use in test and development environments. A production license for the controller is priced at $100 per attached node per year. The Topology Manager app is free, while Flow Manager comes in at $40 per attached node per year.