Editorial & Analysis
Also by this author
14 Nov 2012
It’s a major milestone in the SDN strategy that the company announced back in May 2012, says Brocade senior director of product management, Keith Stewart.
Last week, networking company Brocade announced plans to buy open-source network virtualisation start-up Vyatta, and in doing so, took a major step forwards in its software-defined networking (SDN) strategy.
“There’s a ton of excitement about this deal,” Brocade’s senior director of product management, Keith Stewart, told IP EXPO Online. Speaking from a Brocade sales kick-off meeting in San Francisco, Stewart added: “Brocade put out a strategy [on software-defined networking] into the market a few months back and both our internal employees as well as our customers are very excited to see us continuing to execute against the strategy we put forward.”
He’s referring to the company’s May 2012 announcement of support for the OpenFlow protocol on its existing MLX series of 100 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) routers, but also its commitment to enable customers to deploy SDN on existing network infrastructures, alongside traditional routing.
SDN is a way to separate the control plane from the data plane in network switches and routers. In a SDN environment, the control plane is instead implemented in software on servers, creating the possibility of programmable data flows, and the data plane is implemented in commodity network equipment. In a sense, that’s bad news for a company that makes its money in switches and routers, as Brocade does - unless, of course, it can scramble up the stack to deliver higher-value services to customers.
The Vyatta acquisition should be a huge boost in this respect: while small, the company can boast a wealth of SDN technology and expertise that has attracted $40.8 million in four rounds of funding since 2006. Financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed, but it’s known to be a cash deal and is expected to close by the end of the 2012 calendar year.
“When we came up with our SDN strategy, we knew we needed to go out and find folks to build partnerships with,” says Stewart. Vyatta, he adds, was an “obvious candidate”, and it seems that the relationship got serious quite quickly from there.
Vyatta sells a network operating system designed for routing, security and VPN capabilities for physical, virtual and cloud networking environments. That, said CEO Mike Klayko in a public statement, will enable Brocade to pursue new opportunities in data centre virtualisation, public cloud, enterprise virtual private cloud and managed services, as well as bolster its overall software networking capability. The company plans to use the Vyatta technology and expertise to give customers an “end-to-end architecture built on a highly virtualised, dynamic network infrastructure’. It also plans to extend its open data centre fabric and IP networking technologies directly into any number of server hypervisor environments.
Klayko announced he was leaving Brocade back in August but would stay until a suitable replacement was found. To date, there’s been no further word on the company’s succession plans, so Vyatta employees join a larger organisation with no long-term leader in place right now. Following the close of the acquisition, Vyatta will be merged into Brocade’s Software Networking Business unit, reporting to vice president of the routing, application delivery and software networking group, Ken Cheng.
“There are many significant development happening today that are redefining data centre architectures and industry landscapes,” said Cheng in a statement. “We believe software networking to be a critical component in the next phase of network virtualisation, as enterprises are becoming increasingly virtualised and actively moving workloads to the cloud.”