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Brocade Advances Automation Leadership with Open Network Automation Platform

Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) announced Brocade Workflow Composer, a new server-based network automation platform that enables enterprises and cloud service providers to improve their IT operations and drive greater business agility. Brocade Workflow Composer provides DevOps-style network automation for provisioning, validation, troubleshooting and remediation of multivendor networks — while integrating with workflows across multiple IT domains for end-to-end automation.

As companies move to digitize their business, they need an underlying network architecture, including automation, which supports business agility. This New IP architecture enables the network to become a platform for innovation and for developing, delivering and securing new applications. According to a global CIO survey1, 75 percent of respondents stated that the network is impacting their organizations’ ability to achieve business goals. The lack of network automation and integration of the network with other IT operations and tool chains is the single biggest inhibitor to capitalising on digitization.

Automation has been a long-standing hallmark of Brocade solutions, starting with storage networking in 1995. In 2009, Brocade extended its automation leadership with the industry’s first Ethernet fabric comprised of Brocade® VDX switches featuring Brocade VCS® Fabric technology. Earlier this year, Brocade expanded its data center fabric portfolio with Brocade IP Fabrics, an open, standards-based design that leverages cloud-proven BGP-based architectures, with automation delivered by the new Brocade Workflow Composer. More recently, Brocade acquired StackStorm, an innovator in event-driven automation software, to help bring DevOps-style automation capabilities to the network. StackStorm technology is now a foundational element of Brocade Workflow Composer.

“Embarking on the digital transformation journey can be overwhelming for most organisations requiring changes to the network infrastructure, organisational and operational models and new skill sets. However, when broken down into digestible and evolutionary steps, organisations can navigate the journey at their own pace,” said Sean Ong, Malaysia country manager for Brocade. “One of the first places to start is to bring a new approach to network automation. With Brocade Workflow Composer, Brocade is bridging IT silos and enabling end-to-end automation of cross-functional IT workflows.”

A Workflow-Centric Approach to Automation Increases Business Agility
To enable cross-domain automation, organisations must think in terms of workflows. Workflows have emerged as a fundamental part of IT operations within hyperscale cloud providers because they are proven mechanisms for converting business rules and policies into IT services delivered at scale. Since a workflow is a collection of tasks that are often executed manually and routinely, it serves as a strong foundation for developing automation.

Workflows can be single-domain, such as provisioning a network device, or cross-domain, such as detecting a network device issue and automatically creating and assigning a help desk ticket to a network operator. With cross-domain workflow automation, the manual steps of detecting an issue, identifying the potential cause, performing remediation actions and even creating a trouble ticket or paging a senior engineer can all be eliminated. As a result. IT can minimise human-induced errors, improve operational efficiency and greatly reduce time-to-resolution. According to ZK Research, human error accounts for 35 percent of network downtime. Network automation can reduce that downtime to zero.

“When I’m woken up to be notified of a problem, it’s great to have an event-driven automation system that has already evaluated my alert and given me all the data I would have spent assessing by hand,” said Benjamin Goldsbury, site reliability engineer at a social networking company. “If an automated workflow can reboot a non-responsive system to solve an issue, then what used to be a 2 a.m. wake-up call is now a 10 a.m. follow-up ticket.”

Key Features of Brocade Workflow Composer
Unlike other network automation solutions that are often monolithic, proprietary and only address the network, Brocade Workflow Composer features:

  • Software-driven lifecycle management. Brocade Workflow Composer automates the entire network lifecycle ranging from initial provisioning and validation to troubleshooting and auto-remediation.
  • Cross-domain integration. Brocade Workflow Composer leverages customisable integration points to recognize events from any network device, cross-domain platform or application, and then invoke action by other tools and applications to execute an automated workflow. Brocade Workflow Composer provides more than 1,900 customisable integration points for popular platforms and applications such as Linux, Windows, vSphere, AWS, Azure, CloudFoundry, OpenStack, Docker, Kubernetes, CoreOS, FireEye, New Relic, Sensu, Splunk, ChatOps, PagerDuty and VictorOps.
  • Flexible workflow automation for multivendor networks. Brocade Workflow Composer enables IT agility and choice with turnkey, customisable or do-it-yourself network workflow automation — all supported in multivendor network environments.
  • DevOps-inspired methodologies. Workflow execution is provided by the Brocade Workflow Composer’s open, extensible, microservices-based framework. This framework leverages StackStorm, a variety of other popular, open source DevOps technologies, as well as a thriving community for peer collaboration and innovation.

Organisations that need help in transforming their network engineering and operations team can utilise Brocade NetDev Professional Services. Staffed with experienced network software developers, Brocade NetDev leverages solutions from Brocade and other vendors to help customers accelerate their automation journey.

Packaging and Availability
Acquired by Brocade in March 2016, StackStorm built a thriving open source project and community which Brocade will continue to support and contribute to under the StackStorm name. StackStorm cross-domain integrations are available today on GitHub.

Brocade Workflow Composer leverages StackStorm open source technology as well as other organic and open source technologies, while adding enterprise-class features and support. A trial version of Brocade Workflow Composer is available today. The product is currently scheduled to be released in the third quarter of 2016.

Additional Resources

About Brocade
Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) networking solutions help the world’s leading organizations turn their networks into platforms for business innovation. With solutions spanning public and private data centers to the network edge, Brocade is leading the industry in its transition to the New IP network infrastructures required for today’s era of digital business. (www.brocade.com)

1 Global CIO Study 2015, Vanson Bourne, May 2015

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