Vyatta 5 Advances Linux Routing

Linux-based networking vendor Vyatta is out today with its Vyatta Community Edition 5 (VC5) release, including a host of new security and performance improvements.

Vyatta has been offering an open source alternative to proprietary networking gear since 2006, and with the new release is aiming to expand its share. The new Vyatta release comes as the big networking vendors Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Juniper roll out new silicon to provide greater high-end capacity and network performance. Vyatta, however, isn’t necessarily after the high-end of the market.

“The ultra high end of the market will always be silicon switching,” Dave Roberts, vice president of strategy and marketing at Vyatta told InternetNews.com. “The question is how far can go with software.”

Vyatta develops software that can run on commodity hardware powered by Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) or AMD (NYSE: AMD) processors. Vyatta also offers its own hardware appliances that also use general purpose Intel or AMD processors. Roberts argued that as Intel and AMD push the envelope on general purpose processor capabilities, software based routing technology will continue to grow and scale.

With the VC4 release in April of 2008, Vyatta began to target larger networking need which is something that the new VC5 release builds upon.

VC5 includes an open source Snort-based Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) that will alert network administrators to potentially malicious traffic. The IPS will also block the bad traffic as opposed to just watching it go by.

Vyatta is also taking further advantage of the open source Squid proxy engine to perform URL filtering. Roberts commented that Vyatta provides URL signature sets to help networks block content by category and that users can also manually block URLs via the management GUI.

Squid is also being used to help provide improved Web performance by caching commonly accessed content. Commercial networking vendors have been pushing WAN optimization and acceleration technology to the tune of $1 billion in 2008. Roberts said that Vyatta is not currently in that market, though that could change.

“You may see us trying to after that market (WAN acceleration) as well,” Roberts said. “I’m not sure if we’ll integrate that into the core Vyatta release or as a standalone separate product — we’ll see how it rolls out.”

Virtualization is also a big theme of the Vyatta release. With VC5, Roberts claims that Vyatta has further optimized the ability of the network software to run within a paravirtualized environment that can access storage and network interface drivers. The deployment of Vyatta virtualized could take on a number of different scenarios.

One scenario is a physical piece of hardware running a virtualization hypervisor that has Vyatta and an another enterprise application such as CRM or VoIP. Roberts noted that today the virtual image management would be done via the hypervisor, though he hinted that Vyatta has some future news in that area.

By having a virtualized networking engine alongside an application, the implication is that application latency can be reduced. On a physical level, Cisco’s soon-to-be launched “Project California” blade server has a physical networking engine on which virtual application can run. HP ProCurve has a similar effort underway called ProCurve One.

“Some of the bigger deployments we’re working on with folks in a virtualized context are around reducing latency or making a custom app work really well,” Roberts stated. “Suffice it to say their are folks out there that have networks or applications that are very latency sensitive, and the fact that you can mix the network and the application together on a single piece of hardware is a big benefit to them.”

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