Brocade [NASDAQ: BRCD]: Reforming Network Industry with Open Source Technology

CIO VendorLloyd Carney, CEO Decades ago, the big names like big data, mobility, cloud, and social media hardly used to grab attention in the global conferences or in technology pages of leading news papers. However, little did anyone know that these technologies—mega trends in disguise—one day will ignite revolutions that will transform the business operations. Today, as these trends are at the helm, the spotlight is now on the networking technologies—which can support latest applications and weave a personalized network for organizations. This need leads to conceptualization of “The New IP”—a virtualized IP network that delivers new opportunities to businesses, customers, and partners alike.

“This radical transformation of closed, proprietary IP networks into open, software-driven innovation platforms has opened a new chapter in the networking industry,” says Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade [NASDAQ: BRCD]. With The New IP, an organization’s network no longer remains a mere tactical transporter of data, but a platform of innovation and growth in the world of cloud, personalization, and digital business.

Though “The New IP” term was recently coined, the concept has been ingrained in San Jose, CA headquartered Brocade’s technology for many years. “We made an early bet that open technology would be the architecture of choice in the 21st century, and that belief remains core to our business strategy,” says Carney. Today, that calculated risk is paying handsome dividends to the company. With their networking solutions, feasting on the New IP technology, Brocade simplifies network processes and accelerates speed of service delivery and revenue generation by abbreviating the expenses—both on CapEx (capital expenditure) and OPEX (operational expenditure).

It didn’t come as a surprise to Brocade when organizations displayed their interest to know about the New IP and implement it for fringe benefits. During such an endeavor, organizations were seen motivated and inspired to transit to modern, software-driven network infrastructure that supports “Third Platform” technologies at their pace and terms. “The Third Platform has cloud as its one of the core factor, and thus offers anytime, anywhere access to application functionality,” says Carney. Commenting on its glowing potential, International Data Corporation— an American market research, and analysis firm—foresees that Third Platform solutions will be the primary growth driver for the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector—being responsible for 75 percent of the growth by 2020. Brocade intends to surf this tide with vehemence and zeal—rolling the dice again on a next generation technology. “As organizations shift their momentum towards New IP and Third Platform technologies, they will find themselves in complete control of their networks that is free from traditional data center and network edge definitions,” says Carney. “It will lead them to create unrivalled opportunities for customization and a secure networking infrastructure—in the New IP, security can be built in instead of bolted on.”

Our platforms support OpenFlow 1.3 which allows operators to address complex network behavior, optimize performance, and leverage a richer set of capabilities

Building Infrastructure of Tomorrow

To one degree or another, Software Defined Networking (SDN) has made its presence felt in the networking industry for quite a few years. However, what has brought SDN at the epicenter is the shift to open architecture that makes it much simpler to deploy network services across a heterogeneous networking environment. “We believe that open networking solutions and architectures are the future of networking, and are critical to the success of SDN,” says Carney. With SDN and its open source framework, organizations can programmatically control the way data flows through a network—which eases manageability, supports automation, and assists administrators deliver the customized services—that are critical to today’s dynamic business environments. Brocade offers scalable, SDN-enabled and SDN-ready networking platforms, including the Brocade MLX Series router, Brocade VDX switch, and Brocade ICX switch families.

“Our platforms support OpenFlow 1.3, which allows operators to address complex network behavior, optimize performance, and leverage a richer set of capabilities,” says Carney. OpenFlow—a programmable network protocol designed to manage and direct traffic among routers and switches— provides far greater programmatic control of the network than is possible with traditional network architectures, enabling new network applications to be developed for virtualized environments. The company has also pioneered a unique hybrid port that can run OpenFlow 1.3 and traditional networking flows at the same time—empowering organizations to build tomorrow’s infrastructure without disrupting today’s business.

Weaving a strong and prolific networking infrastructure cannot be made possible without routers and switches working in concert. They are paramount for managing the traffic efficiently and simplicity of configuration. Due to their significance, Brocade has brought Brocade Ethernet core and edge routers, along with data center switches, with built-in VCS Fabric technology. “Integrated Brocade VCS Fabric technology lets organizations manage all their Brocade data center switches as a single logical element and add switches network-wide without manual configuration,” says Carney.

Looking for the networking solutions that can manifest similar results, Afrihost—a South African based internet service provider company— came to Brocade to solve their challenges. Afrihost intended to rebuild their IP storage network to support rapid growth, improve performance, and increase server virtualization density while minimizing the need for manual intervention. In response, Brocade offered Afrihost its VCS Fabric technology oriented switches for storage, disaster recovery, and data replication.
After its implementation, Afrihost was able to scale its networking infrastructure to handle thousands of virtual machines running 24 hours a day with average throughputs of 50,000 IOPS. The company also optimized their network, involving minimized management and manual intervention.

Firepower of Fiber Channel Technology

In the storage networking realm, Fiber Channel is the clear choice for a mission-critical, high-performance, low-latency, highly reliable Storage Area Network (SAN) fabric. “And with nearly 20 years of storage technology innovation that includes the first Fiber Channel switching products, we are arguably the first choice for organizations looking for commendable SAN ports,” highlights Carney. Brocade is a forerunner in the landscape of Fiber Channel as it provides best in class point to point network designed solutions for managing storage traffic. In 2013, Brocade formally introduced “Gen 5 Fibre Channel,” which indicates the fifth generation of speed improvement between the original 1 Gbps and the current 16 Gbps standards. “Gen 5 grew from our commitment to meet our customers’ next-generation data center needs. And we’ve done that—faster than any other competitor.” He further adds, “Our Gen 5 Fibre Channel switch platforms unleash the full potential of high-density server virtualization, cloud architectures, and flash storage.” As an extension of Gen 5 Fibre Channel, the company has also released their Brocade Fabric Vision technology which increases network visibility and supports highly automated management functions. These functions dramatically reduce operational costs by simplifying management, so organizations can preempt problems and accelerate application deployments. “Fabric Vision technology combines capabilities from Brocade hardware, Brocade Fabric OS, and Brocade Network Advisor management software.”

Getting Ready for the Future

The Year 2015 has seen organizations disrupting their markets with the digital transformation of their businesses as they embraced Third Platform computing and New IP networking strategies. Moving into 2016, more businesses are expected to leverage smart machines and transformative technologies to give them a clear competitive advantage. Majority of these solutions would be based on upcoming Gen 6 Fiber Channel standard. According to IDC, the cloud will also be a great contributor in the coming days towards transforming traditional networks into an open, software-driven platform for innovation and a competitive edge. According to the research organization, more than half of all IT spending is going to be on the Third Platform and this figure will surpass 60 percent of all IT spending by 2020. The spotlight will also be on big data and internet of things. “The risk of falling behind is set to intensify with each passing day as carriers and service providers that embrace change will become the winners in the IoT ecosystem and 5G race,” says Carney. For Brocade, the coming years are only going to get more challenging as the competition will become fiercer and demands more atypical. However, the company will leave no stone unturned to stay ahead of their counterparts and adopt the major technologies to be a real disrupter of the networking industry.