Brocade Debuts On-Demand Network for the SDN Data Center

Vyatta technology helps to infuse Brocade's Software Defined Networking architecture.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 30, 2013
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The Software Defined Networking (SDN) revolution promises the ability to rapidly build, scale, and tear down networks and applications as needed. Brocade plans to deliver on this promise with its new On-Demand Data Center strategy.

"There will always be physical gear in the data center, whether it's network, compute, or storage," Kelly Herrell, VP and GM of the software business unit at Brocade, told Enterprise Networking Planet. "What's happening is that the virtual layer is being built out, and everything is being affected by that."

Scalability and agility for the modern data center

Herrell noted that IT is moving towards agility and a data center powered by software. Brocade's On-Demand Data Center aims to support that modern reality. The approach focuses on enabling network resources to scale up and down as needed to support application workloads and demand.

One of the core components of the On-Demand Data Center is the virtual Brocade vRouter, which had formerly been part of the Vyatta portfolio. Brocade acquired Vyatta in November of 2012. Vyatta had been building a Linux-based networking distribution and associated technologies; Herrell was CEO of Vyatta at the time of the company's acquisition.

With the vRouter, users can spin up routing, network segmentation, and security services on demand. Brocade is now releasing a new version of the vRouter, which further extends the Vyatta technology's capabilities. The new release includes support for Dynamic Multipoint VPN and multicast routing.

The vRouter extends the network into the server, something that other vendors, including Cisco with its Nexus1000v, have been doing as well. Going a step further, Brocade is now virtualizing its ADX Load Balancer technology. With the virtual ADX, load balancing can now be deployed on demand, alongside routing and compute, on virtual machines.

The first release of the virtual ADX will debut in June and include Layer 4 load balancing capabilities.

Application Resource Broker

Also helping to enable the On-Demand Data Center, Brocade's new Application Resource Broker works in tandem with the load balancer technology.

Herrell explained that Application Resource Broker monitors the performance of the application environment, looking for changes in demand, load, and capacity. As changes occur, the system automatically triggers the instantiation of additional resources. Those resources can live either in the same data center or on a remote site.

Expansions in physical gear capabilities

Networking infrastructure's virtualization within servers brings a corresponding increase in the utilization of physical networking. To support that demand, Brocade is also expanding the capabilities of its physical networking gear.

The MLXe router is getting a new 4 x 40 GbE module, providing new port options for Brocade's flagship core router. The MLXe was first announced by Brocade in 2010, offering support for up to 32 ports of 100 GbE and up to 256 ports of 10 GbE.

The MLX routing platform was expanded in May of 2012 to support OpenFlow Software Defined Networking in a hybrid mode. In hybrid mode, both SDN and traditional networking are enabled in a service provider network.

The MLX is now being updated with OpenFlow Hybrid Port Mode.

"So it's not just Hybrid mode, now it's Hybrid on a per-port basis," Herrell explained. "On a given port on the MLX, a customer can run their traffic on specific data flows using OpenFlow or traditional routing protocols."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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