Brocade Expands Network Visibility with Software and Hardware

Back in September of 2014, Brocade announced the acquisition of privately-held network visibility vendor Vistapointe. Today Brocade revealed what it has been doing with Vistapointe technology.

Jason Nolet, SVP, Switching, Routing, and Analytics Products Group at Brocade, explained that his company’s new Network Visibility solutions portfolio is an evolution and extension of the Vistapointe technology.

For the most part, network visibility for carriers has been a function of purpose-built hardware appliances. Nolet said that Brocade’s goal is to deliver a more agile, software-based approach.

“We have put together a comprehensive portfolio of network packet broker products as well as probe products that deliver a software-enabled solution for visibility and analytics,” Nolet said.

Nolet explained that the network packet broker taps into the packet core at multiple locations, decoding traffic, doing correlations and filtering. Information from the packet broker can then be flowed through to analytics and probe applications. The probes perform additional filtering and correlation that are specific to a mobile packet core environment.

“The virtual probe technology is entirely a set of assets we acquired along with Vistapointe, but we have leveraged their expertise to also extend the packet broker layer of the architecture with additional software capabilities,” Nolet said.

The additional capabilities come in the form of the session director, which sits on an x86 server and communicates with the packet broker to enable real-time programmability.

While software is the core element of the network visibility technology, Brocade also has hardware available for those who want to go that route. Nolet explained that Brocade’s MLX router is supplemented with the Brocade ICX, along with software to enable high-density network visibility.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is at the core of Brocade’s network visibility strategy.

“It’s an NFV play, pure and simple,” Nolet said. “While there are lots of different parts of service provider networks that are starting to transition to NFV-based services, in the network visibility and analytics space, it’s the packet broker and the probes that are transitioning.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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