Brocade Pushes 8-Gig Fibre Channel

Offers 'adaptive networking' features with the move to faster FC

May 14, 2008

2 Min Read
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If you're looking for a rationale to move to 8-Gbit/s Fibre Channel, Brocade has one: adaptive networking.

Brocade's newly announced 8-Gbit/s FC HBAs and switches are supposed to dynamically adjust bandwidth and storage allocations for data in response to congestion (real or predicted). The feature set works not just with networked storage, Brocade says, but with virtual and physical servers.

This means that if you need to prioritize three levels of traffic for bandwidth and resource sharing, you can do so using Brocade equipment. You can tweak port and route utilization as well as disk I/O. And you can optimize traffic for specific routes. The catch? You'll need a whole network of Brocade 8-Gbit/s gear.

This makes sense. According to Brocade, higher-speed storage networks are built mainly for port consolidation and for virtualization -- and the two are usually interdependent. Further, data centers requiring 8-Gbit/s horsepower require it everywhere, not only on the storage network.

Put another way: None but the largest data centers are going to need high-speed 8-Gbit/s Fibre Channel. Those that do will want a lot more than just raw speed. And Fibre Channel suppliers, eager to maintain their data center presence, are rushing to keep pace."It is important," says Bob Laliberte of the Enterprise Strategy Group. "This is essentially what Brocade is doing -- making the data center fabric smarter -- more aware of the virtual environment it supports and ultimately ensure higher levels of service are maintained for critical business applications."

Brocade isn't alone in pitching extended services based on the FC network. Cisco is also peddling a data center fabric story as well.

"Connectivity vendors, particularly those that want to play in the end-to-end converging and virtualized I/O networking game like Brocade, Cisco, and QLogic need to support adaptable technologies," says Greg Schulz of the StorageIO Group. He says quality of service to align changing workloads with application needs is a must, along with mechanisms to cope with changing physical infrastructures in light of virtualization.

So the race is on. And nothing's guaranteed. While Brocade claims that OEMs and partners such as Dell, EMC, Engenio, HP, HDS, IBM, NetApp, and Sun are working on integration with its adaptive networking and 8-Gbit/s FC, nothing's actually visible yet. While the pitch makes sense, Schulz says, it's still unproven.

But it's certainly something to think about.

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Engenio Information Technologies Inc.

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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