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Brocade Launches FCoE Switches, Adapters

Networking vendor Brocade Communications Systems on Tuesday introduced a switch and converged network adapters that support Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) at Storage Networking World in Orlando. It is the latest in a series of moves by a variety of networking, storage, and data center vendors to provide a migration path to a 10-Gigabit Ethernet unified network infrastructure that many believe will become the foundation for next-generation data centers.

But that won't happen soon, Brocade acknowledges. "We believe we are extremely early and that adoption of this technology might not be as quick as we had hoped," says Marty Lans, senior director of product marketing at Brocade. "There are many forces working against it right now."

Lans notes that the financial services industry is usually among the early adopters of new data center technology, but that the state of the economy and the financial weakness of many Wall Street firms have taken them out of the mix. At the same time, enterprises are scaling back their IT budgets. And internal politics also could slow adoption. ""You have the storage guy, the network guy and the server guy. This touches a lot of people. Who manages it?" he asks.

Most customers will stick to what they know, at least for a while, he predicts. That means no big move away from Fibre Channel networks for storage and IP networks for servers and InfiniBand for high-performance computing, especially since faster versions of each are becoming available. "Data centers move extremely slow when it comes to new technology. We have to educate the market on what this technology can do," he says.

Byte and Switch blogger Frank Berry suggests that it may take a year or more before even an early adopter market exists for FCoE. Still, when customers are ready to migrate, Brocade wants to be ready to compete with rivals like Cisco and perhaps HP and find other data center vendors to partner with, perhaps IBM or others. Adapter competitors like Emulex and QLogic have announced their own converged network adapters and Cisco, of course, has its own switches.

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