For many years, Brocade has been a leader in the storage networking industry. Since the early days, it has been at the forefront and center of the development of Fibre Channel (FC) switching technology.
For some time, analysts have predicted that advances in Ethernet and other technologies will mark the end of the FC era.
But Lucinda Borovick, an analyst at IDC, said the FC exchange will continue to be the dominant storage network architecture for the next five years. In fact, FC switches have benefited from the rise of server virtualization, which is the biggest driver of new storage network ports.
As part of Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD), which focuses on bringing the best and fastest storage networking environments to market, it now offers a full line of 16 Gigabit per second (16Gbps) FC products. In addition, the company introduced data compression technology to increase bandwidth utilization, enabling tighter encryption and enhanced diagnostics. In keeping with the massive popularity of cloud computing, Brocade has introduced a new line of cloud-optimized SAN products.
Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone
The first of these products is the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone . It is designed for private cloud storage. In addition to 16 Gbps performance, the idea behind it is to move the current SAN fabric to a cloud-optimized SAN.
“Brocade DCX 8510 Backbones create flexible networks that adapt to dynamic scalability and performance requirements,” said Jason Nolet, vice president, data center and enterprise networking, Brocade. “They feature up to 384 16 Gbps ports or up to 512 8 Gbps ports.”
Brocade 6510 Switch
Nolet said that the Brocade 6510 switch supports growing workloads and provides 16 Gbps FC in a 1U form factor. How does that compare to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE)? Nolet said he believes it delivers 40 percent more performance at a comparable cost.
Brocade 1860 Fabric Adapter
The Brocade 1860 Fabric Adapter is a new class of adapter for cloud-enabled data centers. As such, it can extend fabric services to Virtual Machines (VMs) and applications.
Brocade VDX 6730 Data Center Switch
While Brocade has long championed FC, that doesn’t mean it is against Ethernet switches for storage. The company sells a number of products in this category including the Brocade VDX 6730 Data Center Switch. This is a 10GbE fixed port switch with LAN and native FC ports. It supports multiple connectivity options, including Ethernet fabrics, and Ethernet storage connectivity for FC over Ethernet (FCoE), iSCSI, NAS and bridging FC Storage Area Networks (SANs) and Ethernet fabrics.
The VDX 6730 is available in two models — the 2U Brocade VDX 6730-76 with 60 10 GbE LAN ports and 16 8 Gbps FC ports, and the 1U Brocade VDX 6730-32 with 24 10 GbE LAN ports and eight 8 Gbps FC ports.
“The VDX 6730 offers 10GbE data center LAN ports and FC ports in a fixed-port switch configuration,” said Nolet, adding that it also offers “low-latency through wire-speed ports with 600 nanoseconds port-to-port latency and hardware-based Inter-Switch Link trunking.”
Brocade VDX 6720 Data Center Switch
The Brocade VDX 6720 Data Center Switch is another 10GbE fixed-port switch. It supports several connectivity options, including Ethernet fabrics and Ethernet storage.
Brocade VDX 6710 Data Center Switch
The Brocade VDX 6710 Data Center Switch is a 1GbE fixed port switch.
In addition to switches, Brocade also provides software for managing SANs. For example, Brocade Network Advisor is a unified network management solution for data, storage, application delivery, and wireless and converged networks. It supports FC SAN, FCoE, IP switching and routing (including Ethernet fabric) in service provider environments, Layer 2/3 IP networks (including networks running Brocade VCS technology ), wireless networks, application delivery networks, and multi-protocols Label Switching (MPLS) network.
“Our management software simplifies operations by providing unified network management for SAN, IP and wireless environments,” Nolet said. “Operating costs can be reduced by providing comprehensive operational support within a single framework. It also integrates hypervisors and management solutions from Microsoft, VMware, EMC, HP, and IBM.
In addition to his own product line, how does Brocade view the storage industry? Not surprisingly, the use of private clouds is growing.
“Today’s data center professionals are constantly evolving their data center networks to support the growing demand for highly virtualized and private cloud architectures,” Nolet said. “They are looking for higher levels of network performance, scalability and reliability – they want to continue to leverage existing IT investments to maximize return on investment.”
He believes that fabric-based networks are a fundamental aspect of supporting virtualized data centers and private clouds. As a result, the company launched its Brocade One strategy to deliver a network with low latency, uninterrupted and easy to operate.
Another trend pointed out by Nolet is the migration of data centers to structures.
“Fabrics are flat, fast infrastructures that are designed specifically to facilitate inter-VM communication, with simplified operations, and with resiliency without redundancy,” he said. “There will be multiple versions of these fabrics for some period of time. There are Ethernet fabrics, which are very good for general-purpose communications — you can also run storage across them. Then there are fabrics that are optimized for storage-only traffic, and today, those continue to be dominated by FC.”
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