Brocade introduced a new application delivery controller that enables service providers to manage application delivery in a way that servers or endpoint devices no longer can. A key feature of the Brocade ADX 12.4 is what the company calls an OpenScript Engine, which enables enterprise service providers to build customized versions of network applications using the open-source Perl programming language to deliver networking capabilities unique to their needs.
The ADX 12.4 is designed to address a shift in the role of networks in delivering applications. Because of the proliferation of various endpoint devices to which applications are delivered, no one optimization will suffice. For service providers such as ISPs, that range of devices includes laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and Internet-enabled TVs. Because applications are also delivered via the cloud, traditional server-based application controls come up short.
The OpenScript Engine feature in ADX 12.4 is a Perl-based platform for customizing applications for a service provider's unique needs, such as improving network infrastructure, security, acceleration or monitoring. Brocade is a supporter of the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN), a community of app developers who share extensive libraries of scripts that have already been created. A developer trying to accomplish one task may find the work of someone else in the community who already solved the problem, so efforts aren't duplicated.
Although other application delivery vendors also offer scripting engines, Brocade's support of Perl is laudable because it's a well-known and widely used scripting language, says Sam Barnett, directing analyst for data center and cloud research at the research firm Infonetics. Barnett is also a veteran of the networking industry, running startups that worked with Brocade and Foundry Networks, which Brocade acquired in 2008.
A particularly impressive feature of the OpenScript Engine, Barnett says, is the Application Performance Estimator, which, as its name implies, predicts how an application will run on a network as it's currently configured, before the application is actually deployed.
"The service provider community didn't really know what a new application or service delivery platform was going to do on the network because they didn't really understand how it was going to be used," he says. "This [Estimator] gives you ... a really good understanding of where your pain points are going to be before you introduce something completely unknown onto your network."
ADX 12.4 also streamlines the transition from the IPv4-based network to the IPv6 network. It will help maintain service parity on both networks, which in a typical situation will run in parallel. IPv6 is a new standard for assigning IP addresses because the worldwide supply of IPv4 address is running out.
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