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Brocade Unveils 16-Gbps Fibre Channel Switch

Entry-level switch will be offered by EMC, Fujitsu, HP, HDS, IBM, and NetApp.

Brocade announced Tuesday a new 16-Gbps Fibre Channel switch and new host bus adapters (HBAs) that also operate at the latest 16-Gbps storage area networking (SAN) standard.

The Brocade 6505 is an entry-level switch that is configurable with either 12 or 24 ports that support 2-, 4-, 8- or 16-Gbps Fibre Channel. It can be configured either as a standalone switch or as an NPIV access gateway, which uses N_Port ID Virtualization to present open systems (not mainframe) Fibre Channel host computers as logical devices to the SAN fabric, thus eliminating switch-to-switch interoperability problems. The switch can also be expanded from 12 to 24 ports via Brocade's Ports on Demand feature, which is turned on with a software license key.

Available in a 1U (1.75-inch) high enclosure, the switch includes new second-generation inter-chassis links that allow faster and simpler Fibre Channel fabrics to be build. The switch also includes a new port type--the Diagnostic Port (D_Port)--which allows IT administrators to identify and isolate optics and cable problems.

The switch ships standard with one power supply; an optional power supply can be added for redundancy and resiliency. Brocade reports that EMC, Fujitsu, HP, HDS, IBM, and NetApp will offer the switch to its customers.

[ Are today's virtual machines and solid-state storage swamping your storage system? See Storage Controller Overwhelmed? Make It Faster. ]

To simplify server deployment and management, Brocade has added several new capabilities to its HBAs. Brocade HBAs now include some of the same switch features such as dynamic fabric provisioning and D_Ports.

The company also announced that IBM will offer its 16-Gbps Fibre Channel embedded switch and make the embedded switch and mezzanine card part of its IBM Flex System x240 Compute Node, which is included in IBM's converged networking PureSystem. In addition, Brocade standalone 16-Gbps HBAs are included in IBM System x servers.

According to the Dell'Oro Group, an industry analyst group that follows the HBA, network adapter, and switch markets, Fibre Channel switch revenue increased 13% quarter over quarter with 1.8 million ports shipped. Likewise, Brocade saw a 15% increase in Fibre Channel switch revenue.

Brocade's embedded switches and mezzanine adapters for IBM Flex System blade servers are expected to be available in May. The Fibre Channel HBAs for IBM System x servers are available now, as is the Brocade 6505 entry-level switch.

Deni Connor is founding analyst for Storage Strategies NOW, an industry analyst firm that focuses on storage, virtualization, and servers.

Our State Of Storage 2012 report highlights promising new technologies that aren't yet on most respondents' radar and offers advice as you plan your 2012 storage strategy. (Free registration required.)

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