Brocade Unveils Vyatta SDN Controller

The new controller, which will launch in November, is based on the upcoming "Helium" release from OpenDaylight.


Brocade in November will launch a software-defined networking controller based on the OpenDaylight Foundation's upcoming "Helium" release and which will represent the vendor's latest move to grow its Vyatta platform.

Brocade officials announced the company's Vyatta Controller Sept. 22, calling it a foundational technology for its software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) platform. It also will be the first commercially available SDN controller based on OpenDaylight technology, according to Kelly Herrell, vice president and general manager of software networking at Brocade.

Brocade has been an active participant in OpenDaylight, a vendor-led consortium launched in 2013 by such companies as Cisco Systems and IBM, with the goal of creating a common platform for SDN and NFV aimed at driving the adoption of the new technologies. Herrell told eWEEK that an open-source approach to SDN and NFV was needed at a time when many vendors were developing proprietary SDN architectures even while customers were increasingly looking for interoperability in their heterogeneous networking infrastructures.

"That multivendor issue is what really drove the development of the OpenDaylight concept," he said.

Brocade over the last several years has been growing its networking capabilities, including through such acquisitions as Foundry Networks in 2008 and Vyatta in 2012. The Vyatta deal brought Brocade a range of network virtualization and cloud computing capabilities. After a couple of years of integration and development—as well as work with such open-source projects as OpenDaylight and OpenStack—Brocade officials this year began talking more about their efforts and bringing the company's capabilities under the Vyatta umbrella.

The Vyatta Controller is a significant step in the broadening of Brocade's portfolio, according to Herrell, who was Vyatta's CEO until the Brocade acquisition. It also comes a week after Brocade bolstered its NFV efforts through the acquisition of Vistapointe.

SDN and NFV are beginning to reshape the networking space, which traditionally has meant buying complex and expensive switches and routers, and doing the configuration and deployment manually, a time-consuming process. SDN and NFV essentially call for removing the network control plan and the various network tasks—such as load balancing, firewalls and VPNs—and putting them into software, enabling for networks that are much more flexible, agile and scalable, and can run atop of commodity hardware.

"You can't eliminate complexity in the network," Herrell said. "But you can tame it."

Industry analysts are expecting the SDN market to grow rapidly. In a Sept. 10 report, Infonetics Research analysts said SDN revenue grew 192 percent between 2012 and 2013, and that the SDN market will hit $9.5 billion by 2018.

The Vyatta Controller offers organizations an avenue into SDN and NFV, according to Brocade officials. While it is based on OpenDaylight, Brocade has fully tested it and will support it. It can be deployed as a virtual machine on such major hypervisors as VMware, Microsoft's Hyper-V and KVM, and can work with Brocade's MLXe, VDX, ICX, vADX and vRouter switch and router lineup. In addition, it also supports third-party infrastructure products, enabling customers to leverage the controller in multivendor networks. That's important as businesses start looking into adopting SDN, Herrell said.

"A lot of [organizations] are cautious of just taking what Cisco offers them," he said.

Brocade also will continue to develop the Vyatta Controller as OpenDaylight updates its releases.

The announcement of the Vyatta Controller also comes with the first two applications from Brocade, Path Explorer and Volumetric Traffic Management. Path Explorer is designed to give users greater topology awareness and enable path optimization, while Volumetric Traffic Management will help organizations manage huge amounts of data continuously running over the network—called "elephant flows"—as well as volumetric traffic attacks designed to consume bandwidth and slow down the network.

The Vyatta Controller and Path Explorer application will launch in November, while the Volumetric Traffic Management application is scheduled for release in early 2015.