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Brocade outlines its SDN approach with OpenFlow

Adding OpenFlow to the NetIron and MLX lines will enable customers to implement SDNs on 100G Ethernet networks

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Brocade this week said it added hardware-based support for the OpenFlow software-defined networking (SDN) API and protocol to its NetIron and MLX series 100Gbps routers as part of a broader SDN strategy.

Adding OpenFlow to the NetIron and MLX lines will enable customers to implement SDNs on 100G Ethernet networks as well as on 10G nets, Brocade says.

OpenFlow is designed to enable programmatic control of network infrastructures and easier network service development and deployment. OpenFlow is being standardised by the Open Networking Foundation.

Brocade rival Juniper is also supporting OpenFlow. Cisco has a multifaceted SDN strategy that includes OpenFlow, an investment in startup Insieme - which Cisco may acquire - and an architecture called Open Programmable Environment for Networking, or Cisco OPEN.

HP has a slew of OpenFlow-enabled switches and orchestration tools, and IBM has demonstrated OpenFlow interoperability and recently announced a partnership with NEC. Arista has partnerships and an architecture that stresses standard APIs available today.

Brocade says it will support OpenFlow in "hybrid mode," meaning the OpenFlow controller will interact with the control plane of MLX and NetIron routers to enable customers to simultaneously deploy traditional Layer 2/3 forwarding with OpenFlow. This allows network operators to integrate OpenFlow into existing networks and segregate SDN for specific flows while the remaining traffic is handled as before.

The Brocade SDN strategy includes the company's existing VCS data centre Ethernet fabric technology, which Brocade says can facilitate SDNs through VM awareness, active-active topology resilience and optimisation for virtualised environments. These attributes can improve SDN controller scalability, Brocade says.

Support for overlay network virtualisation technologies such as NVGRE and VXLAN enable on-demand infrastructure to scale multi-tenancy environments. This is consistent with the capabilities and potential of SDNs, Brocade believes.

In addition to OpenFlow for Layer 2/3 forwarding, Brocade says its OpenScript programming environment for Layer 4/7 switching can also facilitate service customization and activation. Brocade's SDN strategy also includes "northbound" orchestration interfaces to cloud management frameworks, including CloudStack, Microsoft System Center, OpenStack and VMware vCenter/vCloud Director.

Other Brocade products capable of SDN deployment include the VDX line of data center switches and ADX series application delivery switches.

Brocade recently opened an OpenFlow lab in Japan to demonstrate interoperability between Brocade and partner SDN products. Brocade is collaborating with NEC to jointly market OpenFlow and SDN-based network virtualization, large-scale data center infrastructure management, traffic engineering and WAN flow management systems.

Brocade and NEC are establishing joint labs in regional office sites to test and demonstrate their combined products.



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