Brocade First To Market With Native End-to-End FCoE
Mike Fratto and Editor
November 15, 2010
In the quest for one-ups-manship in product advances, Brocade announced it is the first vendor to bring end-to-end multi-hop Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to the market. Brocade's VDX 6720 (the first in a planned family of products) is a top-of-rack (ToR) switch that support multi-path Ethernet, pay-as-you-grow Ethernet ports, and a new Brocade Network Operating System that unifies and simplifies switch management. The VDX is Brocade's first product to bring together the company's SAN and data networking expertise.
Unlike Cisco's Nexus 5000, which decapsulates FC from Ethernet and uses FC forwarders to determine the next route, the VDX forwards FCoE natively. The brains of the VDX is Brocade's new network OS, which merges Brocade's SAN operating system with the Ethernet and IP subsystems from the Foundry. The combination offers some unique and interesting features. For example, the VDX switches in a Virtual Chassis Switch (VCS) behave and are managed as a single switch.
In Brocade's VCS, every switch shares the same configuration and data. Each switch knows, via MAC address and World Wide Name (WWN), where all devices are located on all the other switches, thus simplifying management. The shared view of the network lets you add a new physical link between two switches with no software configuration. The switches see the new link and add it to the network.
The VDX uses Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), which Cisco also uses in its FabricPath, to build loop-free mesh networks. Currently, the new operating system, including TRILL, is only available on the VDX 6720. In a two-tier network, the VCS would be comprised of the ToR access layer with uplink to the core tier via link aggregation or multi-link aggregation. Brocade will be rolling out new core products in the future.
The VDX 6720 switches come in 1RU 24-port and 2RU 60-port models. All the ports are auto-sensing 1/10Gb Ethernet. The switch can forward frames with 600 nano seconds of latency port to port between ports in the same group, or 1.8 microseconds between ports on different port groups. The VDX also has field-reversible fans for front-to-rear or rear-to-front airflow. Other switch vendors often have different products based on airflow which are not field reversible.