Review: Brocade Virtual Network Function Manager

Product Review: Brocade VNF Manager

The advantages of digital businesses are undeniable to all company owners: agility, flexibility, efficiency, cost savings, and more. Digitizing processes has become a tantalizing marketplace for vendors to be creative risk-takers.

Brocade VNF Manager is an application focused on transforming the management of NFV; it provides automated NFV orchestration and VNF management based on standards-based architectures. Through the use of VNF health monitoring and lifecycle management software, Brocade VNF Manager will help organizations automate network service delivery while simplifying their VNF deployment.

Brocade’s newest offer adds another solution for enterprise businesses to begin considering as part of the reconstruction of their technological systems. While Virtual Machines (VMs) are common cost-saving and agile choices of digital processes, there is already a movement to virtualizing network functions.

Related: Download Free Network Performance Monitor v12

Virtual network function (VNF) is designed to consolidate and deliver the networking components necessary to support a full virtualized environment. This fully open source and open systems solution means that in an NFV (network functions virtualization) environment, a VNF overtakes the responsibility of handling specific network functions that run on one or more virtual machines (VMs) on top of the hardware networking infrastructure — routers, switches, etc. Individual virtual network functions can be connected or combined together as building blocks to offer a full-scale networking communication service.

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
Full-scale networking communication service

According to ITBusinessEdge, a survey from earlier this year found nearly half of all IT decision-makers are either using or plan to use SDN architecture within the next two to three years. Half of companies that are considering SDN deployment said OpenStack development is either very or extremely important.

Related: Sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay updated on our latest product reviews

The ability to customize and create building blocks of service is key for the agility and flexibility that digital businesses need and Brocade fulfill these capacities. Brocade’s VNF manager is a commercial version ofOpenStack Tacker, an OpenStack lead project designed to simplify the deployment and operation of virtual network services. The initiative is compatible with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute(ETSI) NFV Framework and integrates with Brocade’s own SDN controller, which delivers power through automated network service delivery.

Brocade’s creation of the Tacker-based virtual network orchestration tool grew naturally from its own efforts to develop Tacker as a member of the OpenStack community. In the Brocade announcement in late April, Nikhil Tambe, Sr. Product Manager at Brocade, explained that developers labored to increase the reliability, programmability and scalability of Tacker for the entire community. Brocade’s efforts, along with the work of other Tacker developers, should help many organizations benefit more from Tacker and create their own NFV and SDN solutions.

Brocade has been a major contributor to the foundational architecture of Tacker — particularly in reliability, scalability and programmability. Brocade desires to strengthen the Project into a fully viable platform for the industry and for developers to rally around. Brocade’s commitment to OpenStack and the idea of opening up more systems like the network proves that they are futurecasting. Supporting this project allows Brocade to already be a huge name in the VNF community.

Brocade also ensures that their VNF Manager will be continuously synced with the Tacker Project so that “everything that works with the Tacker code will work with the Brocade VNF Manager – a pure play approach to open source.” The relationship enforces the fact that Brocade will continue to contribute and work on the Tacker project for the benefit of the community as well as themselves.

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
Tacker

Brocade VNF Manager is an application focused on transforming the management of NFV; it provides automated NFV orchestration and VNF management based on standards-based architectures. Through the use of VNF health monitoring and lifecycle management software, Brocade VNF Manager will help organizations automate network service delivery while simplifying their VNF deployment.

Brocade VNF Manager continuously monitors the health status of the company’s already deployed VNFs, ensuring their availability and reliability. Additionally, the manager utilizes a closed-loop system to provide self-healing and automatic recovery from network issues. As a result, VNFs can be deployed and failures auto-corrected based on a VNF Descriptor (VNFD) policy. Organizations can extend this support and gain access to advanced health and monitoring actions by integrating what Brocade calls “a robust, service-oriented monitoring framework.”

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
Brocade VNF Manager

For prospective businesses, cost savings can be one of the biggest potential benefits of the SDN and NFV path; many organizations though need to realize that the initial deployment costs are higher and that transitioning workload demands will be time-consuming. Long term, however, by virtualizing overall network hardware needs, the costs of purchasing and managing network hardware are greatly diminished.

For those not familiar with NFV, the technology was created to allow organizations to run network services as virtual functions instead of requiring a single appliance per function. Brocade designed their VNF Manager to allow administrators to create VNFs as instances and then establish them with one initial configuration to easy deployment.

It simplifies VNF deployment by using an open, standards based approach to VNF descriptions and templates. The VNF templates are based on Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Application (TOSCA) and feature direct, integrated support for OpenStack Heat templates for service descriptions and deployments. In addition, Brocade VNF Manager supports the instantiation and termination of VNFs.

Operators deploying NFV must be able to catalog VNFs that are part of the services being deployed. Brocade’s VNF Manager cataloging features simplify the onboarding process and employs TOSCA templates to define the necessary attributes each VNF requires for deployment.

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
Brocade VNF Manager

The VNF Manager also enables centralized control and automation of traffic flow, which permits network administrators to respond to spin up and allocate VNFs in the same way that one can easily create, deploy and manage virtualized servers. VNF managers give network services the same level of agility as virtual servers and storage to further propel businesses into the digital realm.

Previously, the explosion of virtual servers was known as “virtual machine sprawl” as VMs were spun and then promptly forgotten, which generated a significant issue for companies’ over the course of years until the creation of VMware’s management tools for large-scale virtual server environments.

Now, Brocade’s VNF Manager, along with similar solutions, offers a proactive solution to avoid such long-term consequences by allowing administrators to oversee the virtual network services as they spread throughout a business. Without a VNF manager, proliferation of VNFs in a business could prove even more difficult to contain than VM sprawl, as most network devices require two IP addresses: one for management and one for operation.

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
Full listing of Brocade’s features

“Tom Nadeau, the chief architect of Brocade’s Open Source Software, noted that ‘in particular, we see a lot of interest [in our product] from the service provider segment due to their inherent need to speed service deployment and accelerate their evolution to the New IP. One of the biggest reasons why these customers like the Brocade approach to the VNF Manager is our ability to ensure value delivery in multi-vendor environments (a completely open ecosystem.)’

He continued, ‘It aligns with our goal of easing orchestration in a software-drive infrastructure, as well as implementing our core New IP focus areas of open with a purpose, ecosystem-driven, and software-centric.’ Brocade’s VNF Manager is seeking to help enterprise businesses evolve to the new level, particularly in the fields of hospitality, IT & telecom, and healthcare.”

The competitors in this market segment are relatively small since it is such a young area of development. Other than Brocade’s solution based upon Open Stack, there are several other VNF management options. First, Aricent’s VNF Manager Framework is an enriched VNF Manager module that offers the “flexibility of leveraging a Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM) such as OpenStack and VMware services for deploying NFV solutions through a wide range of interfaces including a programmable interface for end communication with VNFs.” It allows the operator to define KPIs and co-relate alarms with NFV Infrastructure statistics.

An alternative option is the Alcatel-Lucent 5620 SAM Release 13.0 R5, which “provides an interface with OpenStack to enhance VNF management with more monitoring, assurance and management functionality.” According to the website, “the 5620 SAM extends existing network element management and assurance to VNFs and VNF lifecycle functions. The 5620 SAM NFV feature set is composed of two applications (VNF Monitoring and VNF Manager) as well as support for VNF EMS in the 5620 SAM Java GUI.”

Finally, a third option is Cisco’s Enterprise NFV Manager which includes a NFV option that is very similar to Brocade’s offering. Included in Cisco’s solution are Enterprise Service Automation (ESA) and software for health monitoring and life-cycle management on a Linux-based virtualization layer.

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
ZK Research

In 2015, ZK Research conducted a survey asking businesses where they are in terms of enterprise NFV. Sixty-one percent were somewhere between the researching phase and deployment. The other 39 percent said they had no plans. Brocade’s VNF Manager becomes extremely important for the long-term manageability of the network services and should be considered by businesses looking at enterprise NFV. Those with no plans should be wary of the lessons learned by virtual machine sprawl before they utilize NVF enterprise without a VNF manager.

Brocade is offering a free download of their VNF Manager with an initial 60-day license and 60 days of free technical support. After the trial period, both the developer and operations editions of the tool can be licensed for either one or three years.

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
Software and Support

 

Review: Brocade Opens the Virtual Network Function Manager Market - YourDailyTech
System Requirements

For businesses desiring to go deeper into the native land of digital, looking at virtual network functions may be the right step. With any choice of manager, it is critical to ensure that there are health monitoring systems, lifecycle administering and high levels of security in place. Taking a leap to be on the cutting edge of technology does not mean making choice that have not been made wisely and thoroughly researched.


Additional Resources:

Brocade Data Sheet

Lindsey Cobb

Lindsey Cobb, a Georgia native and former history major, is a technology researcher who is fascinated by past and future of technology. When she is not engrossed in the prophecy of science fiction stories, Lindsey is likely to be planning her next adventurous trip or petting every dog she meets. Contact Lindsey at [email protected]