The goal of the strategy and the products is to help customers make their data centers more agile and cost-effective by bridging the physical and virtual parts of the network.
"You push a button and part of the network gets started up within the server. It's a tremendous leap forward in how flexible and agile the data center can be," said Kelly Herrell, VP and GM of Brocade's software networking business unit. "The network has been the most difficult part to get to dance. Now you have the network talking to the software inside the server. This is very forward leaning, but very real. We have more than 1,000 customers doing this today."
Among the new products supporting Brocade's strategy is an updated virtual router, the Vyatta vRouter, which is based on technology acquired when the company purchased Vyatta late last year. (Herrell was CEO of Vyatta.)
Greg Ferro wrote in his analysis of Brocade's move that the acquisition would deliver "software networking products, including the router and a firewall, that will let Brocade move toward being a more complete networking provider and further away from the old world of Fibre Channel networking."
Also new is the Brocade Virtual ADX, a virtual version of the company's application delivery controller. The Virtual ADX offers a SOAP/XML API to integrate with third-party tools for orchestration and automation.
Brocade also introduced new 4-port, 40GbE module for its MLXe Core Router, and launched new versions of its NetIron CER routers that offer up to four ports of 10GbE. The company also updated to its NetIron operating system with the OpenFlow Hybrid Port Mode, which can support both OpenFlow and standard routing on the same port. Brocade said the goal of this update is to help its customers chart a migration path to software-defined networking.
Brocade also released a Brocade plug-in for OpenStack on its VDX switches, and announced that it's a founding board member and platinum sponsor of OpenDaylight, a new initiative to create an open source SDN controller and northbound API.
Herrell said Brocade's evolving roadmap can be traced to a "perfect storm of technology and economics."
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"Who'd have thought 10 years ago that IT companies would be challenged by a book company?" he asked, referencing Amazon's rapid ascent as a cloud computing resource for corporations. "The explosion of the cloud is driving the explosive need for SDNs, which allow the network to dance with the same kind of modern agility that the server and other parts of the infrastructure currently enjoy."
The changing data center economics are a big reason Brocade has taken its support of OpenStack up a notch. The plug-in it's introducing enables companies running OpenStack cloud environments to tap on-demand provisioning capabilities.
That said, what might be driving Brocade's strategy more than anything is the increasing need of enterprises to more effectively manage their hybrid cloud environments, in which workloads move between their own data centers and those of their cloud providers.