Brocade Balks at 2-Gbit/s Test -- Again

The FC switch giant has ignored an OEM's requests to submit its 2-Gbit/s switch for testing

December 18, 2001

2 Min Read
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Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) has U-turned on an offer it made to include its recently launched 3800 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel switch in a test currently being conducted for Byte and Switch by Network Test Inc., an independent, third-party testing firm.

At the Storage Networking World show in Orlando in October, Brocades CEO, Greg Reyes told Byte and Switch that this publication should work with Brocade's OEMs to obtain a switch for the test, because Brocade was "very busy" (see Brocade Ponders 2-Gbit/s Test and Brocade Unveils Fabric Switch).

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) told Byte and Switch that it was willing to supply OEM'd Brocade switches, but only with Brocade's approval. However, calls into Brocade by Shahid Zia, product manager at HDS, were not returned -- until tonight.

"Brocade has finally called me back. They say you have to deal with their PR people directly,” says Zia. [Ed.note: This could be a problem, since they haven't returned one of our calls since October.]

All this raises the question: Why doesn't Brocade want its switch tested?Protocol problems could be the answer, according to another of its OEMs. One of the features Brocade is touting in the 3800 is the ability to mesh together hundreds of the switches on one network. Brocade says it achieves this feat via support for the FC–SW2 Fibre Channel protocol.

A Brocade OEM that has tested the product tells a different story. "The switch can support this protocol, with some tweaking, but this tweaking limits the switch to meshing together only 30 switches," says the source, who declined to be named.

The solution to the problem is to run the switch in “Brocade mode," the source says; i.e., using its proprietary flow control software. with the proprietary feature invoked, as many as 239 switches can be meshed together on a single network.

“Brocade is basically saying if you want to build a very large storage network, you better do it our way, with our software, or suffer the consequences,” the source says.

”It is not in Brocade’s best interests to have true interoperability, as this levels the playing field,” comments John Lawler, storage analyst with Infonetics Research Inc..— Jo Maitland, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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