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Brocade app ups performance of OpenDaylight SDN

Brocade makes generally available an OpenDaylight SDN app that improves network performance through more efficient traffic flow.

Brocade Communications Systems has introduced an app that attacks a number of problems related to traffic flowing through an OpenDaylight software-defined networking environment.

The company made Flow Optimizer generally available on Tuesday. The software is targeted at enterprises and communication service providers.

Problems that Flow Optimizer can fix include traffic spikes coming from a denial-of-service attack. Such traffic remains unusually high for extended periods of time. Data flows with those characteristics can be redirected to a single physical port to avoid slowing down a network.

Other uses include limiting the amount of traffic heading to Facebook or other online services that are not work related, said Sultan Dawood, product marketing manager for Brocade. The OpenDaylight SDN app is also useful in port mirroring, an approach to traffic monitoring that lets administrators closely track switch performance.

Service providers could use Optimizer to define traffic coming from different enterprise customers. Once understood, it can be directed more efficiently to its destination, such as to Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

"The use cases, including attack mitigation, application traffic control, and flow-based traffic port mirroring, are compelling," IDC analyst Brad Casemore said. "If Brocade can clearly articulate the resulting business value to customers, then Flow Optimizer will find a home in a number of accounts at both service providers and enterprises."

How Flow Optimizer works

Optimizer, which runs on a standard x86 server, communicates to a software-defined networking (SDN) controller via OpenDaylight. The controller then uses the OpenFlow protocol to pass Optimizer's traffic-flow instructions to switches. The SDN fabric has to support these standards in order to use the app, which manages Layer 2-4 traffic.

OpenDaylight-based controllers are open-source alternatives to Cisco and VMware, the two major SDN ecosystems in the market. Vendors providing OpenDaylight controllers include Extreme Networks, Meru Networks and Brocade.

"The cool thing is that the (Brocade) app works with any OpenDaylight compliant controller, not just Brocade's Vyatta Controller," said Dan Conde, analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group.

App portability is an important element of the OpenDaylight movement. The more vendors that support the standard, the easier it is for developers to build one app for multiple controllers.

Brocade has competition as an app developer. One of its largest rivals is Hewlett-Packard. Last September, HP opened an SDN app store for its products and those of partners like F5 Networks and Kemp Technologies. HP has committed to supporting OpenDaylight.

Brocade sells Flow Optimizer through a perpetual license. Pricing is based on network capacity. Up to 20 GB of traffic management costs $4,995, while a 200 GB maximum is priced at $12,995.

Brocade also introduced a new version of the NetIron operating system for the company's MLX Ethernet routers. OS 5.9 has additional features for use within an SDN fabric. Brocade plans to release the OS in the third quarter. It will be available for free to MLX customers that have a service contract.

Next Steps

Overlapping features of OpenDaylight, OpenStack

Getting involved in the OpenDaylight Project

Brocade MLXe supports router encryption

Free Brocade license allows SDN applications testing

Dig Deeper on Network services