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Brocade Ups HP's StorageWorks

Storage networking success depends largely on the SAN vendor's ability to partner with server vendors and VARs. Brocade, the touted leader in SAN switching according to Infonetics (followed by Cisco), is deepening it partnership with HP supplying 8Gbps HBAs for HP servers and extending virtualization features into virtual machines. The two companies are also offering a SAN starter kit to boost companies starting out with storage networking. While virtualization is established technology, the capability to architect dynamic data centers leveraging virtualization is only on the horizon.

The 804 8 Bbps Fiber Channel host bus adapter (HBA)  for HP's BladeSystem C-class servers are dual port FC cards capable of 1600 MBps and up to 500,000 IO operations per second per port. The mezzanine card integrates with Brocade's Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM), branded as HP's StorageWorks DCFM. The 804 supports Brocade's Server Application Optimization (SAO), which extends FC QoS management into the virtual machine and allows the physical HBA to be carved up into virtual instances. SAO guarantees QoS requirements are met while the underlying server is under load by extending the QoS management into the VMs themselves.

Brocade plans to provide support for their N_Port trunking  on the 804 HBA in a future release.  N_Port trunking, available on Brocade's 415, 425, 815, and 825 HBAs, trunks two FC ports into a single logical port which increases capacity. For example, administrators can bond two 8Gbps ports for 16Gb FC without having to redeploy 16Gb FC adapters. N_Port trunking will be a license upgrade for the 804.

"The inclusion of a Brocade mezzanine card is going to greatly improve performance capabilities of the BladeSystems which like other blade server systems are constrained by space. Leveraging Brocade's and HP's ability's to provisioning the higher bandwidth of those cards amongst multiple blades and  virtual machines on those blades will make sure that those cards are used to their maximum efficiency, " says George Crump, lead analyst for Storage Switzerland.

HP and Brocade are also releasing the HP StorageWorks P2000 MSA SAN Starter kit. The Starter Kit, starting at $25,000, includes all the components necessary to deploy a SAN supporting virtualization, including a HP FCp2000 G3 MSA storage array, HP StorageWorks B-Series  8/24 SAN Switch, and HP 81B 8Gpbs HBAs. The starter kit is aimed and SMB IT shops that want to dive into virtualization, but who don't have an existing SAN. "Virtualization customers are continuing to use Fibre Channel storage despite the options of iSCSI and NAS being readily available. For HP/Brocade to provide a low cost option in this area is going to be very welcomed by medium-sized data centers looking to stay in the Fibre Channel camp," Crump says.