News Analysis: Brocade Vyatta Controller Gets a Developer Wiki

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A little bird pointed out this link to me, a wiki for the developer community for the Brocade Vyatta Controller (BVC). The big idea is to help foster community for folks building SDN applications for the BVC. What do I mean by “SDN applications”? I mean an application that does something interesting, and interacts with an SDN controller to program the network. In other words, software is defining the network.

“Oh, yay,” perhaps you’re thinking. “Another vendor with yet another stinking SDN controller is encouraging developers to write for their platform. I don’t care.” Fair enough, but there are a couple of reasons I think Brocade is doing something a bit different here.

1. BVC is based on the open source OpenDaylight controller. That means it should be possible for developers to produce code that can be ported to ODL with little or no effort. (Unless I’m kidding myself here, someone correct me if I’m wrong.) If that’s the case, the SDN application development effort makes a bit more sense. Writing an SDN app for, say, Cisco APIC or HP VAN is riskier since they’ve gone their own direction and app portability is a problem. When you code for those vendor-specific platforms, you’re betting on that specific ecosystem taking root and growing a market base for you in the long run. Those are risky bets. In my opinion, ODL is the safest bet right now. I continue to hear rumors of major vendors who are going to launch ODL controller variants like Brocade has.

You know, someone should come up with a meta-meta-abstraction layer API that abstracts all the controllers. If they do, I hope they call it “TheOneRing” API and someone dresses like Sauron to present. That would be totally worth the price of admission right there. But I digress.

2. Brocade continues their strong push into the software networking space. Brocade is involved with machine learning, SDN, NFV, various open source efforts, has a strong OpenFlow hardware portfolio, and has been on a hiring tear that makes you wonder if there’s a bottom to the bag of cash. The talent pool of folks at Brocade keeps growing, and includes folks that are genuine (not self-styled) thought leaders. Of the established networking vendors, Brocade is the one I have my eye on the most. I believe they have a vision for the future, and are building the team to execute.

Wait…Brocade. You mean the fibre channel people?

Look, forget about all of that. Yes, Brocade was/is a leader in FC storage and SANs. In five years, maybe three, no one will care. It’s not hard to observe Brocade and see that they are moving on to other things. Brocade, right now, is in the middle of some of networking’s most important conversations.

Another way to look at it is to keep watching the hiring in the industry. Of late, I’m seeing folks going to two places: VMware and Brocade. By itself, that doesn’t mean that either of those companies are long-term winners in the SDN space. Silicon Valley has a bit of a revolving door — people move around. So, perhaps it only means that the pockets are deep, and folks are attracted to nice compensation packages. I know I am. But the right people, when allowed to do what they are good at, have a way of helping a company be successful. In that sense, I wouldn’t bet against either Brocade or VMware right now.

7 comments

  • Ethan,
    Thank you sharing this information. I appreciate all of the things you share and have learned quite bit from you over the years. After a quick poke around the site I couldn’t find anything specific talking about writing code and interfacing it with BVC. I certainly could have missed it. Could you point to where any API or coding specific information is located? Thanks Again.

    • Just went on my own 10 minute “undiscovery” journey. I couldn’t find BVC API documentation, either. That could be because ODL is going to be the main doc repository for the BVC API. Not certain, because the BVC is a fork of ODL for a reason. Presumably there are some substantial differences – extensions, if nothing else.

      I believe I found the right place to ask questions, though. While I didn’t see any API documentation at the link below, I did see a bunch of “getting started” videos and docs, and the strong possibility that Brocade humans can point the rest of us in the right direction.

      http://community.brocade.com/t5/DevNet/ct-p/APISupport

  • Hi Ethan, Brocade can chime in if they want, but what they told me and confirmed many times is that they are not forking ODL. Rather, their development process is to pull down the latest repo from ODL at least daily, build it, and run their tests against it for the modules they are developing. They are committed to not altering the ODL core themselves except through the project

    Others haven’t made the same commitment so we may end up with many variants of ODL from other vendors.

    • Good point – sounds like something I should do a follow up point on, as the distinction is important, and I missed it the first time around. I see this as another point in Brocade’s favor, although they are betting big on ODL’s ultimate success.

By Ethan Banks

Ethan Banks is a podcaster and writer with a BSCS and 20+ years in enterprise IT. He's operated data centers with a special focus on infrastructure — especially networking. He's been a CNE, MCSE, CEH, CCNA, CCNP, CCSP, and CCIE R&S #20655. He's the co-founder of Packet Pushers Interactive, LLC where he creates content for humans in the hot aisle.

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