Brocade Rolls Out Data Center Networking, SDN Initiative

Brocade's On-Demand Data Center initiative is designed to create flexible and scalable networks for virtualized and cloud environments.

Brocade is leveraging the technology it inherited after buying Vyatta last year in rolling out a virtual router as part of a larger effort to create highly flexible, programmable and virtualized networking infrastructures.

Brocade's Vyatta 5400 vRouter portfolio is a key part of the vendor's On-Demand Data Center initiative, which is designed to marry the best of virtual and physical networking technologies that can help businesses more quickly provision data center resources—not only in networking, but also in compute, storage and services—and drive adoption of software-defined networking (SDN).

Brocade bought Vyatta in November 2012, part of a larger SDN push that also included hiring away an executive from rival Cisco Systems to oversee its SDN and cloud strategies.

Along with the 5400 vRouter, Brocade on April 30 also unveiled a virtual application delivery switch, physical router and 40 Gigabit Ethernet switch modules, updates to its NetIron network software, and a plug-in for the OpenStack cloud technology.

The combination of the products in the company's On-Demand Data Center strategy "delivers an end-to-end software networking solution that increases data center agility and reduces network complexity," Ken Cheng, vice president of the Routing, Application Delivery and Software Networking Group at Brocade, said in a statement. "Brocade's ability to unite the physical and virtual networking elements provides our customers with heightened agility, not only in their deployment options, but also when it comes to implementing emerging technologies that simplify business processes."

Brocade joins a wide range of networking vendors looking to leverage virtual and physical technologies to create data center networking fabrics that enable businesses to create the programmable and flexible infrastructures that are crucial for increasingly network-intensive workloads like cloud computing and big data.

Brocade's announcement came the same day Hewlett-Packard unveiled its own networking fabric based on its FlexNetwork architecture and aimed at enabling SDNs. Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Extreme Networks and Dell, among others, also have made similar pushes with network fabric and SDN initiatives.

Creating the foundation for the On-Demand Data Center strategy is Brocade's VCS Fabric technology, according to company officials.

The 5400 vRouter offering brings routing, security and high availability to networks through a software appliance. The technology not only is important for virtualized data centers, but support for multicast routing and Dynamic Multipoint VPN are crucial for large enterprises and cloud service providers, according to company officials. The vRouter, which enables businesses to more easily build multi-tier networks that can be configured and deployed on demand, is being used in everything from virtual private data centers to public clouds, including Amazon Web Services. It supports the hypervisors from the likes of Microsoft, VMware, Citrix Systems and Red Hat.

Brocade's Virtual ADX can help accelerate the deployment of applications and services in cloud environments, which will help customers more quickly find new revenue streams and reduce operational costs, officials said.

In other software moves, Brocade updated its Application Resource Broker solution, which will enable services in hybrid clouds and business continuity, spanning distributed data centers. In addition, Brocade created an OpenStack plug-in for its VCS Fabric, enabling faster deployment of network capacity and provisioning in cloud environments and greater scalability across multiple clouds.

Noting that data centers need a mix of virtual and physical resources, Brocade officials also are rolling out a four-port 40GbE module for its MLX3 Core Router, which will integrate with the VCS Fabric technology. In addition, Brocade unveiled new versions of its NetIron CER routers that include up to four ports of 10GbE and new NetIron CES switches.

The 40GbE module will be important for service providers and enterprises, a Brocade employee said in an April 30 post on the company blog.

"Prior to 2012, optical equipment dominated the 40 GbE market," the post read. "40 GbE is now taking off on Ethernet routers and switches, principally in data centers because it helps to bridge the bandwidth and economics gap between 10 GbE and 100 GbE for customers."

Updates to the NetIron software include improved high-performance routing and SDN capabilities, including support for OpenFlow Hybrid Port Mode technology that enables businesses to deploy OpenFlow SDN and traditional routing on the same port.