Brocade last week at VMworld in Las Vegas announced three new capabilities for its Ethernet/Fibre Channel switches, which entail enhancements to its VDX switches, expanded capabilities for its Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS) platform, and a change to its financing for its switches that charges users for the number of switch ports in use.
The new VDX switch models include the Brocade VDX 6730 data center switch, which allows IT managers to bridge existing Fibre Channel storage area networks (SANs) with Gigabit Ethernet networks and operate using the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol. This capability and switch allow IT to preserve existing investments in Fibre Channel while either migrating to Gigabit Ethernet networking or maintaining interoperability between Fibre Channel SANs and Ethernet networks.
Brocade also announced a new Ethernet switch, which supports 1-Gbps and 10-Gbps Ethernet. The VDX 6710 is an entry-level switch that allows servers containing 1-GbE adapters to connect to a 10-GbE environment or to a 10-GbE backbone.
The company also enhanced its VCS platform to include the ability to discover virtual machines on the converged network and to configure and migrate them across the Ethernet fabric. Further, in order to accommodate growth of converge networks, Brocade doubled the number of switches that could be installed in a single fabric.
With enhancements to its Brocade Network Advisor management software, the package is now able to manage LAN and SAN connections, as well as virtualized environments. Brocade Network Advisor works with VMware vCenter to automatically configure storage capacity to virtual machines. As virtual machines migrate across the Ethernet fabric, Brocade Network Advisor and vCenter maintain connectivity between servers and storage. With Brocade Network Advisor, all VCS nodes can be managed as a logical switch, allowing IT managers to associate VMware port groups to port profiles.
Each of these products will be available through OEMs starting this quarter.
Finally, Brocade announced the Brocade Network Subscription financing plan, in which users are charged based on the number of switch ports they use. This plan differs from financing plans from other storage vendors in that there is no minimum number of ports for which a user is charged. As the number of ports used either expands or contracts, the charge to the customer also changes. The plan is designed to offer an alternative to customers whose workloads may change seasonally and who don't want to make capital expenditures for storage capacity. The Brocade Network Subscription is charged monthly based on actual usage.
Among the customers who have adopted the Brocade Network Subscription is Rackspace Hosting in San Antonio. The financing is expected to be particularly attractive to cloud hosting and service providers, whose workloads swing all the time as they take on new customers.
The Brocade Network Subscription plan lends itself best to customers with a transaction size of $500,000 in Brocade gear.
Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.
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