Brocade launches innovative data center automation tools

New switches and software suites raise the bar for data center automation

Brocade launches innovative data center automation tools

Earlier this year Brocade announced its Workflow Composer (http://www.networkworld.com/article/3075335/network-management/brocade-workflow-composer-enables-it-to-move-with-digital-speed.html) platform, powered by StackStorm to automate data center processes and bring DevOps like automation and continuous innovation to the network. 

This week Brocade expanded its portfolio with a number of new automation suites for Workflow Composer and a line of new switches with increased flexibility and programmability capabilities.  The combination of Workflow Composer and the new hardware enables Brocade customers to increase the level of network agility at a workflow level or down at the individual switch. 

The automation suites can be thought of as pre-packaged components that are assembled, built and tested by Brocade.  Network infrastructure continues to evolve at a pace never seen before but all the moving parts have raised the bar on complexity to new heights.  The validated solutions speed up the time to deployment by taking a turnkey approach to the deployment of Brocade technology. 

Brocade has extended the value of Workflow Composer by introducing the following three new automation suites.

  • Network Essentials Suite.  This automates the provisioning of all the mundane, repetitive tasks that network managers need to do.  This would include things like VLAN provisioning and ACL configuration.  Brocade has made this free and hopes customers that use this will become more comfortable with the concept of network automation.
  • Data Center Fabric Automation.  This suite helps customers deploy a network fabric using a combination of Brocade VDX and SLX products.  Fabrics provide a strong foundation for a software defined network and can help meet the challenges associated with data center modernization.
  • Internet Exchange Points.  These workflows automate all the tasks required in an Internet Exchange.  This includes provisioning, billing and support.  Sample workflows include adding VLAN and VPLS ports, validating MAC addresses and LSP mesh, troubleshooting tunnels and BGP status and moving customers to quarantine. 

The automation suites are available for preview this month and will be generally available in February of 2017.

As part of this launch Brocade also announced three new additions to the SLX family of switches – the 9140, 9240 and 9540.  The 9140 and 9240 are based on the same Cavium XPliant silicon with a flexible pipeline architecture that Arista is using http://www.networkworld.com/article/3147029/software-defined-networking/arista-brings-network-flexibility-to-the-network-switch.html in its new 7160 series.  Like Arista, Brocade customers can use the programmable pipeline to increase data center agility at a box level.  The switches have native, consortium based 25 Gig-E for high speed server connectivity at the leaf.  They also have 100 Gig-E interfaces for spine-leaf interconnectivity.  Arista beat Brocade’s announcement by a day but that battle for the data center is just heating up.

The Brocade SLX 9540 is a Broadcom based product with versatile deployment options with carrier class MPLS, VXLAN, OpenFlow and IP functionality.  The product also has a whopping 6GB tunable deep packet buffer for bursty traffic. 

Specific details of the products are as follows:

SLX 9240: 32x100 Gig-E ports, orderable in January 2017, generally available April 2017

SLX 9140: 48x25 Gig-E + 6x100 Gig-E ports, orderable in January 2017, generally available April 2017

SLX 9540: 48x10 Gig-E + 6x100 Gig-E ports, orderable now, generally available April 2017

Brocade has always been an innovative vendor but it’s focus has been at bring new features and functions to the infrastructure.  The new SLX switches shows Brocade is still innovating there, but Workflow Composer enables its customers to simplify network wide configuration tasks through automation.

I also think this announcement is important for the IP division at Brocade to show that despite the acquisition by Broadcom and subsequent spin off rumors, the innovation beat goes on.  In the digital era, agility is the name of the game and Brocade has enabled it up and down the data center stack.

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