Brocade Outlines Server/Storage Fabric

New gear will support the kitchen sink of data center acronyms, including FCOE

October 23, 2007

3 Min Read
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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.Although the standard is not expected to be ratified until next year, FCOE has already started to grab the attention of users eager to cut their power and cabling costs.

"As people start to leverage virtualization techniques, everything has to be connected to everything," says Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "[But] one of the biggest challenges for the DCX device is going to be the internal cultural issues within the data center -- each of these different fabrics is typically owned by a different group."

Although specific details of the DCX device are not yet available, Brocade has outlined some of the other products in its DCF roadmap.

"We will be shipping new versions of our HBAs in the first half of 2008," says Tom Buiocchi, the vendor's vice president of marketing. "That will enable us to deliver end-to-end security, encryption, and virtualized solutions."

The exec was unwilling to provide additional details on the HBAs, although he did confirm that the adapters, which will be built by Brocade itself, will offer automated configuration of virtual servers.Other product announcements planned for the next few months include enhancements to Brocade's File Area Network (FAN) IP-based product line and expanded management tools for the vendor's SAN products. "There will be new products to enhance that portfolio in the first half of 2008," says Buiocchi.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)

  • Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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