A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Scott Sneddon, Cloud Solutions Architect at Vyatta Inc. I’ve known Scott since the late 1990′s when he and I both worked for Exodus Communications.
Vyatta is one of the few full featured software based routing vendors in the market today. Their product is a mix of OpenSource and proprietary software combined together creating a router that can not only live in the cloud but will in the future be able to utilize some of the hardware such as Intel’s Sandy Bridge (and later generation Ivy Bridge) processors as Network Processors.
Network Processors are key to hardware forwarding routers such as the Juniper T series and the Cisco Carrier Routing System allowing them to perform forwarding and features at line rate, something that routers using software based forwarding struggle with. To get a better picture of software vs hardware forwarding you can read Router Analysis’ Enterprise Edge Router Upgrade Guide where I discuss the Cisco 7200 which uses a software forwarding engine and compare it with higher performance routers with hardware forwarding capabilities.
Vyatta offers a full featured router solution by including VPN, Firewall and other features normally found in hardware locked solutions in their software product. I feel that Vyatta has a jump on other vendors in the True Virtual Data Center space. One of the most important parts of the Virtual Data Center is the router and it’s ability to perform equal to or greater than the hardware based router it is replacing. Using software forwarding alone Vyatta claims to be able to handle up to 2Mpps, which depending on packet size can easily be multiple gigabits of traffic. In testing Vyatta is seeing up to 11Mpps using an Intel Sandy Bridge processor as a network processor.
A quick note about integrated firewalls: While software firewalls contained within the same hardware as the routers, switches and/or hosts are very useful, they are not a replacement for hardware firewalls. In security (which I do not claim to be an expert at) the separation of networks using physical links is key. There is some great information available in this thread on the Cisco support forums where they are discussing the ASA 1000V.
Vyatta keeps a tight relationship with the OpenSource community by hosting Vyatta.org where you can find free versions of Vyatta’s Core Software along with community support, documentation and forums.
SDN Testing, the software defined side of Router Analysis plans to put the Vyatta product through rigorous testing in the coming weeks.