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Brocade Extends SAN Connections

Brocade announced two new extension modules, the FX8-24 Extension Blade and FCoE 10-24 for its DCX  and DCX-4s chassis and a new top of rack switch, the Brocade 7800. The blades and 7800 are designed to interconnect data centers using fibre channel over IP (FCIP). Brocade is also enhancing their Data Center Management Fabric (DCFM) 10.3 to unify storage and networking management, and they are providing a mid-tier manager, DCFM Pro Plus, for smaller shops. Brocade refused to share pricing details.

The FX8-24 Extension blade has twelve 8 Gbps FC ports, two 1Gbps ports, and two optional 10Gbps ports. The Brocade 7800 Extension switch comes in two models, the 16/6 has sixteen 8Gbps fibre channel ports and six 1 Gbps Ethernet ports, while the 4/2 has four 8Gbps fibre channel ports and two 1 Gbps ports.

Both extension products do more than just interconnect local resources. The extension products are designed to interconnect two remote data centers using FCIP trunks which can span multiple ports for load balancing. Brocade's FCIP ensures QoS by setting prioritization within the trunk, and their Adaptive Rate Limiting adjusts per flow capacity based on actual use. If a the switch or blade finds it has available capacity, it will use it, but if there is congestion, it will back off gracefully. Adaptive Rate Limiting ensures the FCIP is fully utilized when needed, while letting multiple applications play nice.

Brocade claims the extension products can also compress the data, 2x-4x in most cases, prior to sending over the FCIP tunnel. Brocade has also increased maximum latency from 250 ms to 350 ms, nearly 11,000 miles or 17,500 kilometers.

DCFM 10.3 integrates management of FCIP and facilitates end-to-end management of a virtualized infrastructure, allowing administrators to monitor and manage storage connections from the hypervisor to the SAN. DCFM currently integrates with VMware's vCenter, but Brocade says they will be adding other hypervisors in the future. DCFM Pro Plus is targeted at smaller shops that wouldn't benefit from the full DCFM 10.3 suite and can support up to four fabrics, but doesn't manage the DCX backbone nor Fibre Connectivity (FICON) mainframe to storage connection.