Brocade has launched version 2.0 of its SDN Controller. The controller is a commercial distribution of OpenDaylight (ODL), the open source controller project overseen by the Linux Foundation. SDN Controller 2.0 is based on OpenDaylight’s Lithium release.
The latest controller has several enhancements, including a new, Brocade-branded user interface that the company says is more flexible and intuitive than the UI on the standard ODL distribution.
“We feel it’s important, as we get away from CLI, to give people a clear view of what they’re doing,” said Lisa Caywood, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Brocade, in an interview. “All our applications will use this UI going forward.”
To that end, Brocade has released two applications that take advantage of the new UI: Topology Manager and Flow Manager. The applications are exclusive to Brocade and won’t be submitted back to OpenDaylight.
Topology Manager is a free application that, as you might guess, provides a visual representation of the network topology. The controller discovers all the physical and virtual nodes on the network (including switches, routers, and L4/L7 devices such as load balancers). Topology Manager identifies the devices and their names, shows how they are connected, and displays flows passing through the nodes.
The Flow Manager application lets administrators configure and manage the flows via the UI instead of having to dig into the CLI. Flow Manager costs $40 per node per year.
The controller supports the OpenFlow protocol, and Brocade says it should interoperate with third-party switches that use OpenFlow 1.3. “We have a list of specific OpenFlow features supported in the controller, and that’s what we know should work coming from any platform,” said Caywood. “If it doesn’t, it’s on Brocade to fix it.”
The Open Networking Foundation, which oversees OpenFlow, recently announced a new testing specification for version 1.3. Brocade said it would would work with the testing specification, and plans to release a hardware compatibility list.
The SDN Controller is $100 per managed node per year, including support. Brocade also offers a 3-year license with a small per-node discount.
The Neutron Dance
The new controller also includes a rewritten plug-in for the Neutron, the networking module in OpenStack, the cloud orchestration platform.
Using this plug-in, the controller essentially becomes a client for OpenStack, enabling the orchestration platform to call for network services from the controller.
The plug-in has been certified by RedHat for its Juno release of OpenStack, though it should work with other OpenStack implementations.
For more on the Brocade announcement and standards-based SDN, see Ethan Bank’s blog.