Software Defined Networking (SDN) by Vyatta



By Lester Chan
(Adapted from an email to CJ See, owner/co-founder of

When workplace networks become large with as many as 20 people or more, access loading on the gateway router will obviously be higher.

Let me paint this scenario; it’s like running VirtualBox in your PC. The loading on the PC’s memory and processor is different between running 1 copy and 20 copies of Windows 7 on the same PC. 

Simply put, if you run 20 copies of virtual Windows 7 desktop in VirtualBox, you probably need quad-processors, Core i7s with 32GB or more of RAM, in order for all desktops to function stably on one piece of hardware.

The situation is the same for routers. Both routers and PCs are the same breed of product containing processor and memory on a mainboard.

Therefore when a network is large with 20 users or more, the stability of the routing itself becomes dependent on the brute force of its hardware, memory and processing power.

You no longer look for features and fancy stuff like parental control or dual band wireless networking. You would want the router to function and to stay functioning 24×7 without user intervention. Period.

After it becomes clear that processor and memory is what you need and what drives a router into stability, you are only left with a few choices; Cisco, Vyatta and some other leading names like Juniper, FortiGate or BlueCoat.

Only these names manufacture routers capable of supporting high performance networks including those found in data centers, serving millions of websites on the Internet.

The secret is very simple; enterprise class routers are routing solutions that work on very powerful boards with high speed processors and loads of memory power. It is not that they can route any better than the stock wireless router your ISP given you, but they obviously could transport multiple routing packets more efficiently than smaller boxed routers we use at home, and doing the task without failure.

This does not generally means that commercial grade routers are poor in quality. They are just not designed to be deployed in a demanding networking environment. If you use a RM200.00 Linksys router and place it as a gateway for a network with a few hundred users, it is like attempting to tow a cargo trailer full of goods using your car. Cars and trailers are different vehicles and so is the same for commercial home-use routers and enterprise class routers. They are made to function in different networking environments.

Why Vyatta

Ciscos and Vyattas are products consisting of software components built inside hardware boxes. Similar to a cheap TP-Link router. It’s probably got codes in it written on open source Linux.

In the case of Cisco, you pay for the box and the routing software, all-in-one at one price. But as for Vyatta, routing software is installed into a x86-64 Intel or AMD based hardware, add a few network cards and slot in the required amount of RAM memory you need, and we’re good to go. A typical 1U server with Intel Core i3 processor and 2GB of RAM could possibly work very well in a network with 80 to 100 users.

Cost is another factor. Now, try to purchase a Cisco equivalent with a 2.4GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of memory. The price can possibly buy you an entry level sedan car anywhere in the world.

Vyatta is by far more superior because it offers greater flexibility that no other routing brand possibly could. Vyatta is not simply a routing box solution. Vyatta is in its class of its own, what is currently being termed as Software-Defined Networking (SDN).

Say after 2 years of owning a Vyatta and you discover that you need more memory. All you need to do is to hop over to the nearest PC shop, pay a few Ringgit for, say another 2GB of RAM, plug it into your Vyatta x86-64 server, and you will have an upgraded router in no time.

Whereas if you upgrade 2GB of RAM in a Cisco 2900 series router, the price will be in the region of USD500.00 to USD600.00 and you are more likely bound to return to a Cisco certified consultant to get the upgrade done.

Despite many business owners simply believing that only products like Cisco would work well or that’s the in thing they want to own, it does not stop Vyatta to be so much more desirable, even with many Cisco die-hards themselves moving over to Vyatta because of these simple reasons.

Well operates from a Vyatta-based firewall, and it’s being going and going for years, 24 x7, serving several millions hits per month.

That’s how stable Vyatta is and why my stand remains, it is still one of the better routing solution I have seen in the world.

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