Brocade Leveraging Perl to Boost ADCs

Following on the heels of it's 12.3 ADC release that improved IPv6 performance, Brocade is providing more scriptable extensibility via Perl but it staying away from the firewall moniker unlike rival F5.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jan 31, 2012
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Brocade (NASDAQ:BRCD) is updating its ADX Application Delivery Controller (ADC) operating system providing new scriptable extensibility. The Brocade ADX 12.4 release is the first major update to the platform in nearly a year, following the 12.3 platform that had a key focus on IPv6.

The new extensibility comes by way of a technology that Brocade is calling OpenScript. The scripting engine has some similarities to the iRules scripting engine used by F5 as well as some key differences, according to Brocade.

"OpenScript is a deterministic application programming engine that has the scalability and the predictability that providers need," Keith Stewart, director product management for Application Delivery Products at Brocade, told InternetNews.com. "OpenScript is deterministic, which means you can predict the performance of a script before you put it into production."

The programming language behind OpenScript is Perl, which offers the advantage of a large base of developers as well as access to the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) libraries. With CPAN, developers can pull from tens of thousands of existing Perl scripts.  OpenScript enables users to pre-compile scripts and then run them through a performance estimator that will help with appropriate sizing for applications before they go into production.

"The OpenScript engine is a high-performance protocol and application level decoding system that breaks apart live sessions in application traffic that is moving across the network and serves that up to higher-layer scripts through protocol APIs," Stewart said. "Those protocol APIs are effectively like LEGO blocks where you can use them to build monitoring, acceleration and security applications all on top of a common scripting environment."

Part of the OpenScript effort involves a community site where users can post their scripts or use other people's script to perform different tasks.

On the security front, rival ADC vendor F5 recently announced that its technology could be used as a certified firewall. Stewart noted that in the ADX with OpenScript, users will have the ability to run intrusion prevention system (IPS) type signatures but he cautioned against the use of ADCs as full-service security appliances.

"At this stage, we're saying that OpenScript can be used to solve specific problems in an environment, however, we're not signing it up to a full service IPS device. That's a whole other environment," Stewart said. "I think that as other ADC vendors are trying to broaden their addressable market, the firewall market is an obvious place to go."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at 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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