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Brocade Outlines Server/Storage Fabric

Brocade will add yet another acronym to the jargon-laden storage lexicon as it unwraps its Data Center Fabric (DCF) architecture at its annual conference in Las Vegas today. A loosely defined strategy to consolidate users' server and storage gear, DCF is Brocade's latest attempt to open up new enterprise revenue streams at a time when many CFOs are tightening their purse-strings.

At the core of the DCF strategy is a high-end device called the DCX Backbone, aimed at environments with lots of server virtualization. "It's going to be a large switch -- eventually it will be a family of switches," says a source close to the company, who asked not to be named. "Out of the gate, it will be able to accommodate Fibre Channel, FCOE, lossless data center Ethernet, and iSCSI. It will connect to servers, but it will also connect to existing SANs and storage." The source explains that the switch, code-named Neptune, will scale up to around 768 ports.

Contrary to rumors, the DCX device will not replace the i10K and the 6140 Directors acquired when Brocade bought McData for $713 million last year. "It's a high-end product that will complement and interoperate with all of Brocade's directors," says the source, explaining that the device will be available sometime in the first half of 2008.

Brocade is not the only storage specialist jumping on the FCOE bandwagon. A number of vendors, including QLogic, NetApp, and Nuova, used last week's SNW event in Dallas to crank up their strategies around FCOE.

First proposed earlier this year by a group of vendors spearheaded by Cisco, which included IBM, Intel, and Sun, the FCOE spec is aimed at enabling SAN traffic to be natively transported over Ethernet networks.

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