Brocade Plans for Future With New Data Center Routers

In the SLX 9850 family, company officials include features for greater network visibility, automation, capacity and analytics.

network visibility

Brocade officials are keeping an eye on the not-so-distant future with the introduction of the company's latest lineup of data center routers.

The scalable and dense SLX 9850 family, unveiled this week, is designed not only to better manage the fast-growing amount of traffic coming onto corporate networks, but also to give enterprises greater visibility into the data and applications running on them.

Cisco Systems is predicting IP network traffic will triple over the next five years, reaching 2.3 zettabytes by 2020. It hit 870 exabytes in 2015. Much of that is being driven by the proliferation of smart, connected devices that make up the growing internet of things (IoT) and the rise of video traffic. Gartner analysts are predicting that 20.8 billion connected devices, systems and sensors will be in use by 2020; Cisco is putting that figure at 50 billion. By 2021, video will account for 70 percent of mobile data traffic.

According to Jason Nolet, senior vice president of Brocade's Switching, Routing and Analytics Products Group, enterprises understand what this means in terms of the demand for greater reliability, performance and scalability on their networks, though they're still trying to figure out the best way to address them. At the same time, they also have new concerns, including how to better understand the needs of applications on the network, proactively plan for capacity, quickly address failures and pinpoint security problems in the network.

"These aren't small issues; they can be major challenges for network designers and operators," Nolet wrote in a post on the company blog. "The good news is that greater network visibility can help address many of these concerns, and with today's silicon and software technology, enhanced visibility can be embedded natively within the network itself."

Brocade is addressing the need for visibility with its new SLX Insight Architecture, which will be embedded in the routers. By putting the technology into every router, enterprises will get pervasive visibility throughout the network. The SLX Insight Architecture also includes a KVM environment that can run third-party and customer-specific monitoring, troubleshooting and analytics applications on the routers, according to Brocade officials.

There also is a dedicated 10 Gigabit Ethernet analytics path between the router's packet processor and KVM environment that can extract data without disrupting traffic.

The router, which can be ordered now and will be available in the fourth quarter, also has some other features designed for the increasingly digital age. Brocade's Workflow Composer is a DevOps-style server-based network automation platform that is designed to automate the entire network lifecycle, from provisioning to troubleshooting to remediation of multi-vendor networks. The technology is built on the StackStorm open-source effort and can automate workflows across multiple IT domains, from compute to networking to storage.

The router family is designed for 10/40/100GbE data center environments, provides 230T-bps capacity and can support up to 4 million routes, 2 million full-color statistics and 2 million policies, all of which will help enterprises address bandwidth and services demands in the future, officials said.