Brocade Unveils SDN Monitoring App

Flow Optimizer works with OpenDaylight-based controllers for network security and bandwidth control.

Marcia Savage

June 9, 2015

3 Min Read
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With an eye on making SDN more "consumable," Brocade on Tuesday launched a new SDN application for network visibility and control. The Brocade Flow Optimizer works with any Open Daylight-based SDN controller and is designed to help enterprises and service providers thwart network attacks and control bandwidth usage.

The SDN app, which features a Web-based GUI, gives users the ability to monitor and manage layer 2 to layer 4 traffic flows in order to spot anomalies that indicate misconfigurations or malicious attacks. Brocade said Flow Optimizer is its first SDN app to make software-defined networking consumable.

The software can be deployed on off-the-shelf server hardware or virtual machine, and collects sFlow samples from Brocade MLXe routers and ICX campus switches via an Open Daylight-based controller -- either Brocade's Vyatta controller or any other ODL-certified controller. Brocade Flow Optimizer analyzes the collected flows and, based on policies customers set, programs Open Flow rules through the controller back to the devices to take actions on specific flows.

For example, a user can set up a policy to look at a segment of traffic flows for a period of five minutes, and if at any time there's something that doesn’t look normal, implement a variety of actions. Those actions could involve isolating the flow and putting it on an isolated port or discarding the flow.

An organization can also use Flow Optimizer to monitor how applications are consuming bandwidth and rate limit or turn off traffic flow for bandwidth optimization.

HP has led the charge with SDN applications, opening the HP SDN App Store at last fall's Interop New York. Brocade argues that its approach to SDN apps is different than HP's, which it contends requires users to download many applications to address different issues. Other network visibility tools aren't based on SDN and can't enforce policy, the company said.

Brad Casemore, research director at IDC, described Flow Optimizer as a multifaceted application that's designed to enforce policy. "That doesn’t necessarily make it better than the largely single-purpose apps in the HP App Store, but it does make it qualitatively different," he said in an email interview. "That said, some SDN security applications clearly are designed to enforce policy. Along these lines, think about the threat-mitigation capabilities of microsegmentation or about DDoS prevention."

As for the Brocade app making SDN consumable, Casemore noted that some organizations already consume SDN architectures and applications today for business benefits. But he added that the use cases for Flow Optimizer, including attack mitigation, application traffic control, and flow-based traffic port mirroring, are compelling.

Overall, Brocade's SDN strategy focuses on open standards with its support for Open Daylight and OpenFlow. The vendor's Hybrid Port technology allows users to run OpenFlow along with traditional protocols.

The Flow Optimizer features support for REST APIs in order to integrate with third-party cloud orchestration systems.

Pricing for the Brocade Flow Optimizer is based on a perpetual software license depending on network capacity; up to 20 GB of traffic management costs $4995 and up to 200 GB costs $12,995.

About the Author(s)

Marcia Savage

Executive Editor, Network Computing

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