Brocade divests final software assets with vEPC and SDN sales

Brocade was looking poised to be an interesting player in the emerging world of virtualized telco networks, but that was before it was acquired by Broadcom last November. The chip giant wanted Brocade’s core hardware offerings and as part of the process of finalizing the deal, buyers were found for several other smaller, but higher growth businesses. The latest deal concerns the virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) which Brocade built around its purchase of Connectem, and which has now been acquired by Mavenir.

This transaction follows the purchase of the Ruckus carrier WiFi business by Arris, and the spin-off of the SDN controller into a start-up called Lumina Networks.

Mavenir itself is a recently completed mash-up of telco software companies. The original Mavenir company, which focused on wireless VoIP and related products, merged with veteran PBX and VoIP supplier Mitel in 2015. That combined firm was in turn acquired, in late 2016, by Xura, which also snapped up Cloud-RAN start-up Ranzure.

The group was rebranded under the Mavenir name early this year and has now added a vEPC to its portfolio, taking it further away from a voice focus and into a broader virtualized network platform. One ambition is to provide the central brains for those virtualized networks, including the software to manage Cloud-RANs and associated vEPCs. Many independent efforts in these fields are starting with small cells, which can support discrete deployments that allow new techniques to be tested without disrupting the macro network. Mavenir said recently that it was engaged in tests of its RAN software, deployed with small cells, with two operators.

Brocade’s vEPC is far less prominent in the market than rivals like Affirmed, or offerings from the major network vendors. However, Connectem was well regarded when it launched its product and its new owner also gains 22 patents in this hot area of MNO technology. Mavenir said in a statement that the purchase will help it address the “next-generation core network with a feature-rich, virtualized evolved packet core, expanded customer base, and advanced network slicing capabilities important to 5G architectures”.

Meanwhile, Brocade is spinning off its SDN controller into newly formed Lumina Networks, in the final transaction required to satisfy its new parent. Lumina will be headed by CEO Andrew Coward and backed by private investors, but is likely to seek a Series A funding round within a year.

The Brocade product was unveiled three years ago as an implementation of the OpenDaylight open source controller, and the vendor said it planned to build an entirely open SDN offering, making money – Red Hat-style – from selling commercial versions or services. However, when it saw the challenges of deploying the new open software with legacy systems, Brocade set up an implementation team called Network Development, or NetDev, and that has proved the main initial source of revenue.

Lumina also offers two applications – Flow Manager for traffic engineering and Zero-Touch Installer for automatically configuring devices such as virtual CPE instances.

Other Brocade divestments to date include the sale of the data center networking business to Extreme Networks, Ruckus to Arris Networks, Vyatta and the virtualized router to AT&T, and the virtual ADC to Pulse Secure.