Brocade Unveils Big SAN Switch

Company introduces 512-Gbit/s "protocol agnostic" storage switch, but IP services won't be introduced until 2002

April 10, 2001

2 Min Read
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PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) today introduced a new high-capacity "core" storage switch, the Silkworm 12000, pitching the product as the linchpin of a new product architecture for secure storage networks that support multiple protocols (see Brocade Enhances SAN Architecture).

The product looks to entrench Brocade's lead in the Fibre Channel switching market, advancing Fibre Channel switches to higher capacity, while at the same time enabling a migration path toward storage services using other protocols, such as IP. Initially, however, the product is essentially a high-capacity Fibre Channel switch, with IP cards not expected to be available until 2002.

The core switch will support up to 128 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports by the end of the year and will have a "protocol agnostic" backplane that will allow IP cards to be plugged into the product as they become available. It will also run the Brocade Fabric OS, a storage operating system that will allow network managers and service providers to build secure networked storage systems.

"This is a more aggressive architecture because it's protocol agnostic," said Shaw Wu, vice president of technology equity research at Banc of America Securities LLC.

The announcement comes at a time of transition in the SAN market. Higher bandwidth optical connections provided by service providers are extending the reach of SANs, and IP is expected to become one of the protocols of choice for storage applications.In addition, several large networking players, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), are eyeing the SAN opportunity (see Ciscos Secret SAN Strategies Revealed and Lucent Demos IP/SAN Technology).

Cisco, whose entry into the SAN market might threaten Brocade, was expected to make several announcements about its SAN strategy later today.

"Longer term, Cisco is competitive, but Brocade has proprietary technology and they will remain a leader," says Wu. "I see at least 20 companies that compete well against Cisco in niche markets. For example, look at Ciena, Juniper, and Extreme."

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.-- R. Scott Raynovich, Executive Editor, Light Reading

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