FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- Brocade Communications Systems has added hardware-based support for the OpenFlow software-defined networking (SDN) API and protocol to its NetIron and MLX series 100Gbps routers as part of a broader SDN strategy.
Adding OpenFlow to the NetIron and MLX lines will enable customers to implement SDNs on 100G Ethernet networks as well as on 10G nets, Brocade said this week.
OpenFlow is designed to enable programmatic control of network infrastructures and easier network service development and deployment. OpenFlow is being standardized by the Open Networking Foundation.
Brocade rival Juniper Networks is also supporting OpenFlow. Cisco Systems Inc. has a multifaceted SDN strategy that includes OpenFlow, an investment in startup Insieme -- which Cisco may acquire -- and an architecture called Open Programmable Environment for Networking, or Cisco OPEN.
Hewlett-Packard Co. has a slew of OpenFlow-enabled switches and orchestration tools, and IBM has demonstrated OpenFlow interoperability and recently announced a partnership with NEC. Arista has partnerships and an architecture that stresses standard APIs available today.
Brocade [Nasdaq: BRCD] says it will support OpenFlow in "hybrid mode," meaning the OpenFlow controller will interact with the control plane of MLX and NetIron routers to enable customers to simultaneously deploy traditional Layer 2/3 forwarding with OpenFlow. This allows network operators to integrate OpenFlow into existing networks and segregate SDN for specific flows while the remaining traffic is handled as before.
The Brocade SDN strategy includes the company's existing VCS data center Ethernet fabric technology, which Brocade says can facilitate SDNs through VM awareness, active-active topology resilience and optimization for virtualized environments. These attributes can improve SDN controller scalability, Brocade says.
Support for overlay network virtualization technologies such as NVGRE and VXLAN enable on-demand infrastructure to scale multi-tenancy environments. This is consistent with the capabilities and potential of SDNs, Brocade believes.
In addition to OpenFlow for Layer 2/3 forwarding, Brocade says its OpenScript programming environment for Layer 4/7 switching can also facilitate service customization and activation. Brocade's SDN strategy also includes "northbound" orchestration interfaces to cloud management frameworks, including CloudStack, Microsoft System Center, OpenStack and VMware vCenter/vCloud Director.