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Rackspace beefs up cloud networking features with Brocade's Vyatta technology

Rise of hybrid clouds and software-defined networking creates needs to better control network traffic

By , Network World
May 30, 2013 09:04 AM ET

Network World - Public cloud and managed hosting provider Rackspace has rolled technology from Vyatta into its services, allowing customers to set granulated network segmentation policies that dictate which users and what type of traffic have access to which hosted resources.

Vyatta -- a maker of open source networking technology that Brocade purchased earlier this year -- specializes in creating virtual appliances to allow for firewalling and blocking or allowing certain types of traffic to access endpoints.

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Rackspace hopes that customers will use the Vyatta technology along with the company's Cloud Networks, which allows users to create virtual private networks. Combining that feature with a Vyatta firewalling product would allow only users with certain credentials or specific types of traffic workloads to access that network, and block any other attempts to use it.

So, for example, if there are a set of servers in Rackspace's cloud holding sensitive documents or information, Cloud Networks and Vyatta could be used to set up a private network connection between certain users and those servers, and restrict all other traffic. Vyatta also allows for layered firewalling, or virtual firewall appliances sitting on either end of the network connection to provide extra security. Rackspace CTO John Engates says these technology enhancements get customers "that much closer to proving compliance with a specific regimen using a commercial grade, hardened firewall."

Physical hardware appliances have allowed this functionality in the past, but Engates says incorporating Vyatta technology into Rackspace's cloud allows customers to use a virtual appliance only as it's needed without having to buy a physical box. Customers have also had an opportunity to use open source firewalling tools, but this rollout gives customers a commercially supported product to implement. Rackspace will offer support services for deploying the system as well. It will first be available via a 30-day early adopter period, and then will be generally available to all customers.

The rollout of Vyatta technology into Rackspace's cloud is in line with two major themes: hybrid cloud implementations, in which customers connect on-premises technology to public cloud or managed hosted resources; and software-defined networking (SDN), which enables granular segmentation of network connections.

The relationship between Vyatta and Rackspace is not unique, though. Rackspace's biggest competitor in the cloud -- Amazon Web Services -- also offers Vyatta technology as part of its virtual private cloud (VPC) instances. Engates says Rackspace provides more support in deploying the technology compared to Amazon's do-it-yourself model.

Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

Read more about cloud computing in Network World's Cloud Computing section.

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