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Brocade Unveils Updated SDN Controller

Sticking with its commitment to open source SDN, Brocade today launched an updated SDN controller based on the latest OpenDaylight code release, Lithium. The company also released two new SDN applications.

Brocade SDN Controller 2.0 comes a year after Brocade announced its first commercial distribution of the open source ODL controller, based on the project's Helium code. The new controller features improved clustering capabilities for increased scalability and reliability. Brocade also worked to boost interoperability by improving the Open vSwitch Database (OVSDB) interface and the OpenStack Modular Layer 2 plug-in.

"That gives users a fully open source stack to work with, from the orchestration layer all the way down to the device interfaces," Lisa Caywood, senior product marketing manager for software networking at Brocade, said in an interview.

Brocade's fully tested OpenDaylight controller is drawn entirely from the open source project and enhancements the company makes are contributed back to the project, she said. "Everything in our distribution is from the [OpenDaylight] project, not forked in any shape or form," Caywood said.

In a blog post last month after the OpenDaylight Summit in July, Mike Fratto, principal analyst at Current Analysis, praised Brocade for committing to not making changes to the OpenDaylight distribution that don't come from the project. "Forking the code" can introduce a number of problems, including the introduction of bugs, he said.

"It’s tempting for vendors to make changes that they think can be reverted later, but in reality, doing so instills bad habits and complicates their software development lifecycle. Perhaps more importantly it will create problems as the project matures and software vendors try to maintain consistent code bases that diverge more and more," Fratto wrote. "There is also no guarantee that products that integrate with ODL will work properly against a forked version."

Along with the new controller, Brocade released Topology Manager, a free tool bundled with the controller that shows graphically how nodes are arranged and connected. Another tool, Brocade Flow Manager, allows users to go beyond viewing the network topology to creating and managing flows. The new controller also supports the Brocade's Flow Optimizer tool for network security and bandwidth control.

The new tools and controller are all available now. A production license for the controller costs $100 per attached node per year, including support. The Brocade Flow Manager costs $40 per attached node per year, also including support.

Caywood said the pricing is based on a consumption model, which aligns with companies that are interested in SDN, many of which are cloud providers or companies moving to a cloud model. "What you use is what you pay for and what we support," she said.

For those interested in testing out the controller, Brocade also offers a free license to manage up to five nodes with the controller, including 60 days of support. The company began offering the free evaluation in January, and Caywood said it exceeded Brocade's expectations with more than 1,000 downloads.

"The eval is intended for people to get their feet wet and understand what this SDN thing can do for them, and build a base for the future," she said. "It's doing exactly what we intended."

In July, Brocade announced a partnership with CERN openlab to provide its OpenDaylight controller to CERN's Large Hadron Collider.