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Vyatta Updates Open Source Router

Open source networking vendor Vyatta is rolling out the latest community edition of its routing software, continuing efforts to target Cisco users in a battle for a slice of the multi-billion-dollar router market. But while Vyatta Community Edition 3 (VC3) adds new features, users of Vyatta's subscription-based edition may not notice much change.

VC3 includes an IPSec VPN , as well as new Border Gateway Protocol routing capabilities. The only problem with calling that "new," however, is the fact that Vyatta told InternetNews.com in March when it released Vyatta 2.0 that it included an IPSec VPN.

Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy at Vyatta, told InternetNews.com that Vyatta has a subscription and a community edition release that previously shared the same version numbers but not the same functionality. To confuse matters further, the subscription version of the VC3 release, Roberts said, will be called version 2.3 and will follow the community version in a few weeks.

Though both versions are freely available from Vyatta, the official policy of the company is to provide full commercial support only to subscription customers.

"In practice, we've split the difference with certain customers," Robert noted. That is to say in a few cases, Vyatta does provide commercial support for the community version.

Vyatta does not yet include SSL-VPN functionality in either its subscription or community products, though it is something that Roberts said customers want. So because Vyatta is based on the Debian Linux system, Roberts said some users have simply added the OpenVPN SSL-VPN program onto their Vyatta-based routers.

But this user-based, add on approach does not integrate with Vyatta's core management structure and isn't an ideal solution. More open architecture that will let users expand the core platform is what Vyatta's after.

"My own internal phrase is that we want to provide more surface area," Roberts said. "The big thing that we want to do is get more people involved in the system in a way that doesn't require them to be working on the same bit of source code that we are.

"That means letting others integrate other functionality that is interesting to them. We don't want Vyatta to be the main source of innovation for the Vyatta platform. We think that the whole community will be the source."

The new, more open architecture isn't expected until Vyatta's next release cycle in 2008.

Since first hitting the market in 2006, Vyatta has attempted to position itself as an open alternative to Cisco and other proprietary networking vendors.

Vyatta, however, remains a software vendor, though Vyatta's routing software can be bought pre-installed on Dell hardware. Dell does not resell Vyatta, rather Vyatta resells Dell hardware.

Fundamentally for Vyatta, the router market is largely commoditized and technology alone isn't the basis on which the open source vendor expects to compete.

"Router functionality -- things like routing, firewall and VPN -- have been around for a while and are well," Roberts said. "The heyday of innovation for those things was in the early 90s; since that time we've seen things slowing down."

"By and large the way that people build networks is well-known. We don't see that as a basis of differentiation long term. What we are going to see is competition on the basis of who the company is and service."