Brocade improves cloud scalability, scripting functionality for ADCs

By adding Perl-based OpenScript to its application delivery controller, ServerIron ADX, Brocade offers service providers greater cloud scalability and customization options.

Cloud scalability and good application performance in the cloud is no easy task. Cloud providers need application delivery controllers (ADCs) that offer flexibility and customization in order to help customers simplify network management and achieve greater control over their cloud-optimized networks.  

Brocade has enhanced its ServerIron ADX series of application delivery controllers with a new, Perl-based scripting platform that delivers cloud scalability and adaptability by simplifying how service providers customize their cloud environments for customers. This scripting platform also includes a performance estimator that can predict how rolling these scripts into production will affect a customer's network.

With the Perl-based scripting language and the OpenScript community, it will be easier for cloud providers to optimize user experience for their customers.

Zeus Kerravala
Principal Analyst, ZK Research

The scripting platform, OpenScript Engine, is similar to F5 Networks' scripting capability, iRules -- although Brocade claims OpenScript's Perl-based roots make it much less proprietary. It also claims that iRules lacks the ability to estimate a script's performance impact.   

"Most products on the market are historically closed systems, and those systems are bad for the cloud provider in terms of solving security-related problems or [cloud] scalability," said Keith Stewart, director of product management at Brocade.

OpenScript adds cloud scalability to application delivery controller

Cloud providers need application delivery controllers that enable cloud scalability and adaptability for their customers. Brocade's latest ADX software release, version 12.4, will offer an open system of technology on the back end -- the OpenScript engine -- that gives cloud providers the ability to offer customers differentiated tiers of service.

Depending on the size of the customer's business, cloud providers must be able to offer different subsets of programmability and sophisticated handling of protocols in order to respond to the needs of their custom environments, Stewart said.

These new elements -- including the OpenScript engine, application performance estimator and improved cloud scalability -- are what are propelling Brocade's ADX application delivery controllers ahead of the rest of the vendors vying for cloud providers, said Sam Barnett, directing analyst at Infonetics Research.

"The unique features and functionality that are being enabled with version 12.4 didn't exist previously and are really targeted at the cloud provider community itself," he said. "The product's features are really raising the bar and setting [Brocade] apart from everyone playing right now in this space."

The OpenScript platform is built on the Perl programing language, another distinguishing feature that differentiates this ADC from the rest, Barnett said.

The user-friendly scripting language not only makes it simple to write scripts, but it also makes scripting faster, as many cloud providers already have in-house Perl expertise, Barnett said.

"Some [cloud providers] have seen [fewer] lines items required to execute the same task," Brocade's Stewart said. "Something that [used to] take 20 lines to write could get done in five to six lines with Perl." 

The Perl-based scripting platform can also provide greater customization opportunities, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.

When it comes to application delivery, no two environments look the same, noted Kerravala. 

"There is always a small amount of tweaking that need to be done," he said.  "I think the scripting language allows the cloud provider to be able to tweak [the ADC] to optimize it to work well for their client's cloud environment."  

Greater application performance visibility for cloud providers

The OpenScript Performance Estimator allows the cloud provider to predict the performance impact of custom scripts before implementation, which is sorely needed in this market, Barnett said.

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"It surprises me that no one thought of this application before. I think this scalable and open tool will solve a lot of problems for the cloud provider community," he said.

In the past, the impact of a new application was unknown until it went live in production. With this new visibility, providers can plan better for performance impacts and help users determine whether to deploy a script into production or continue testing and development.   

The OpenScript community that Brocade has launched alongside the release of its OpenScript platform is a social networking space for cloud providers to share technical guidance, real-time discussions and ADX configuration examples. The community is another tool that will facilitate swifter deployments of cloud-based applications, Kerravala said 

"With the Perl-based scripting language and the OpenScript community, it will be easier for cloud providers to optimize user experience for their customers, and ADX really allows the cloud provider to have much more control," said Kerravala.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, News Writer.

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