Brocade Powers Up Its Cloud Network Efforts with Piston OpenStack

By Sean Michael Kerner | Oct 12, 2012 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/netsp/brocade-powers-up-its-cloud-network-efforts-with-piston-openstack.html

There is a lot of interest an activity around the open source OpenStack cloud project from all types of IT vendors, including networking vendors. One of those vendors is Brocade, who is now partnering with Piston Cloud Computing to build a joint solution set.

The partnership will see the Brocade VCS Fabric melded to a Piston Cloud designed OpenStack platform. Piston Cloud is a commercial vendor building its own OpenStack distribution. With OpenStack and its included Quantum network virtualization components the line will be begin to blur between Software Defined Networking (SDN) and the cloud.

"One of the challenges for people deploying OpenStack is crossing the line between their traditional networking infrastructure and their new virtualized or SDN infrastructure," Joshua McKenty, CEO of Piston Cloud told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet. "Working in a tighter relationship with Brocade allows us to automate a lot of that challenge."

McKenty added that it's orchestration of the physical and virtual networking where the two companies can work together. OpenStack already has its own networking technology known as Quantum, though McKenty stressed that the Piston Brocade partnership is more involved.

Brocade is no stranger to programmable networks and SDN and is also active in OpenFlow related efforts. OpenFlow and the efforts with OpenStack though address very different issues.

Ken Ross, director product management at Brocade explained to EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet that the focus with OpenStack is on the management and orchestration side. In contrast, with OpenFlow the focus is more on the control plane side of the network itself.

"We see them as complementary efforts," Ross said. "We see an evolution of orchestration offerings like OpenStack needing to take account of OpenFlow in the future, but the work we've been doing in OpenStack right now is more basic."

From a Brocade perspective, the OpenStack integration is now just about the VCS fabric and isn't directly tied to the company's ADX Application delivery controller technology or its MLXe routing gear.

"We have a roadmap looking at how we can include the ADX and the MLX," Ross said. "We see those product lines being orchestrated by OpenStack in the future."

Open Source?

Whjle the core OpenStack project is open source, not everything in the Piston OpenStack solution with Brocade fall into that category.

"Some things that we have done in this partnership are not open source but they are not customer facing," McKenty said. "Our general approach is that if it's ever an API that a customer touches it should be open source."

That said, he added that a lot of the work done around high-availability and self-provisioning happens in the Piston solution are not done in open source.

Ross noted that from a Brocade perspective, the bits that are likely to stay proprietary is the operating system running on the physical network.

"The differentiators for us are in the network and we will contribute back plugins to make sure we integrate properly," Ross said. "As the Quantum Project within OpenStack evolves there could be other areas we could contribute too as well."

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.