Brocade Takes Aim at Server Virtualization

by Sean Michael Kerner

Brocade updates its application delivery controller lineup with a new application resource broker to cut through the fog of server virtualization.

Networking vendor Brocade (NASDAQ:BRCD) is updating its ADX application delivery controller platform with new visibility and hardware.

The application resource broker is new Brocade technology that aims to provide visibility into application performance in virtualized data centers and private clouds. With the improved visibility Brocade said enterprises will be able to scale up or scale down based on real demand whether or not the traffic comes from physical or virtual machines.

"The move from a traditional hardware-based environment to a software virtualized environment enables consolidation of servers on individual workload, but it brings with it a visibility challenge -- what we might call the fog of virtualization, " Keith Stewart, director of product management at Brocade, told InternetNews.com.

Stewart explained that virtualization can hide a Web users experience with a given application or Web site. With the ability move virtual machines within or across a network, there are additional complexities in trying to measure user experience.

As well Stewart noted that resource and capacity planning can be more difficult to do in a virtualized network.

"Historically we've had the capacity buffer that came from server over-provisioning," Stewart said. "The entire point of many enterprises in moving to virtualizing is to eliminate over-provisioning. But it removes the historical buffer."

The problem is that without the extra buffer, Stewart said it can be more difficult to meet demand when it unexpectedly rises. According to Stewart what is needed is the ability to provision and scale virtual machines on-demand based on traffic.

"The Brocade application resource broker solves the visibility challenge by providing monitoring network and virtual machine resources," Stewart said. "It also has the ability to provision additional resources as it sees load increases. It can also de-commission when the load decreases."

Stewart added that the application resource broker measures multiple metrics in order to get a view of application delivery including application response time, inbound connection levels and CPU utilization.

A New ADX Appliance

The application resource broker works in tandem with Brocade's ADX appliances which are also getting a refresh. The ADX 1000 series was announced a year ago and was one of the first new products announced by Brocade after it completed its acquisition of Foundry Networks. The hardware lineup is now being expanded with a new ADX 1008-entry-level device.

The ADX is powered by the ADX operating system which is now being updated to version 12.2. With the new version, application performance and predictive load balancing is improved which builds on the capabilities provided by the application resource broker.

"What we're providing is the ability to dynamically deliver traffic to servers sitting behind an ADX that are most able to handle the traffic as determined by response times," Stewart said. "So we can predict future response time and we use that to drive traffic to the most efficient server."

FIX protocol (Financial Information eXchange) support has also been updated as has support for the next generation IPv6 addressing system.

"We've had native support for IPv6 for quite some time, what we're adding in this release is the ability to have IPv6 to IPv4 translation for IPv6 clients," Stewart said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Apr 27th 2010
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