Central to Brocade's SDN strategy is Vyatta Controller, the solution built on OpenDaylight. The OpenDaylight project is designed to create an open source controller that will have plugins to integrate with network products across vendors. Cisco, Juniper, VMware, and Brocade are some of the vendors that participate in OpenDaylight.
Brocade's networking history
Brocade has a robust history in network hardware. Most enterprise customers may deal with Brocade primarily in Fibre Channel storage networking; however, Brocade purchased Foundry Networks in 2008, and Brocade's Ethernet portfolio is an evolution of the Foundry product line that is based on traditional network solutions.
In 2012, Brocade entered the network function virtualization market with the purchase of Vyatta, which was best known for its virtual router solution that provided VPN and firewall functionality. It's the Vyatta brand that Brocade has decided to leverage to continue to market its SDN solutions.
Vendors have a decision to make around the packaging of SDN controllers. Some vendors offer hardware-based controllers; some vendors participating in OpenDaylight (which primarily runs on x86 hardware) have chosen to offer their controller as a physical appliance.
While not exactly SDN or an OpenDaylight controller, Cisco's APIC controllers use commodity hardware in the form of their C200 rack mountable server with special chipsets to ensure security and performance. Talking with Cisco representatives, APIC controllers can run on a broader range of commodity hardware but is currently only supported as a C200-based appliance. Brocade chose a completely software-based approach for its OpenDaylight based controller.
The Vyatta Controller is a software package that runs on commodity x86 hardware and an enterprise Linux distribution such as Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, or Fedora. There's no technical reason I could find that would prevent the Vyatta Controller from running in a virtual machine.
There are several use cases for the Vyatta Controller — some of which are traditional cloud implementations. Organizations looking to orchestrate and automate the provisioning of resources in an OpenStack implementation may find the openness of the Vyatta Controller appealing. While cloud may be one of the more obvious use cases, a second use case is custom network management software.
Brocade highlights that Vyatta embraces the core concepts of open source. There are some questions around ownership of the intellectual property for software created as part of some vendor's controller ecosystems. Because of that Brocade has been helping to write custom software for managing workflows and hardware for cloud providers and traditional enterprise customers in verticals such as finance.
If you are looking for an OpenDaylight-based controller from a major vendor, Brocade's Vyatta platform should be on the list. Brocade has put its full weight behind OpenDaylight.
Would you consider an open source-based network controller? Let us know in the discussion.
Keith Townsend is a technology management consultant with more than 15 years of related experience designing, implementing, and managing data center technologies. His areas of expertise include virtualization, networking, and storage solutions for Fortune 500 organizations. He holds a BA in computing and a MS in information technology from DePaul University.