Brocade First To Market With Native End-to-End FCoE

In the quest for one-ups-manship in product advances, Brocade announced it is the first vendor to bring end-to-end multi-hop Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to the market. Brocade's VDX 6720 (the first in a planned family of products) is a top-of-rack (ToR) switch that support multi-path Ethernet, pay-as-you-grow Ethernet ports, and a new Brocade Network Operating System that unifies and simplifies switch management. The VDX is Brocade's first product to bring together the company's SAN and d

November 15, 2010

3 Min Read
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In the quest for one-ups-manship in product advances, Brocade announced it is the first vendor to bring end-to-end multi-hop Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to the market. Brocade's VDX 6720 (the first in a planned family of products) is a top-of-rack (ToR) switch that support multi-path Ethernet, pay-as-you-grow Ethernet ports, and a new Brocade Network Operating System that unifies and simplifies switch management. The VDX is Brocade's first product to bring together the company's SAN and data networking expertise.

Unlike Cisco's Nexus 5000, which decapsulates FC from Ethernet and uses FC forwarders to determine the next route, the VDX forwards FCoE natively. The brains of the VDX is Brocade's new network OS, which merges Brocade's SAN operating system with the Ethernet and IP subsystems from the Foundry. The combination offers some unique and interesting features. For example, the VDX switches in a Virtual Chassis Switch (VCS) behave and are managed as a single switch.

In Brocade's VCS, every switch shares the same configuration and data. Each switch knows, via MAC address and World Wide Name (WWN), where all devices are located on all the other switches, thus simplifying management. The shared view of the network lets you add a new physical link between two switches with no software configuration. The switches see the new link and add it to the network.

The VDX uses Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL), which Cisco also uses in its FabricPath, to build loop-free mesh networks. Currently, the new operating system, including TRILL, is only available on the VDX 6720. In a two-tier network, the VCS would be comprised of the ToR access layer with uplink to the core tier via link aggregation or multi-link aggregation. Brocade will be rolling out new core products in the future.

The VDX 6720 switches come in 1RU 24-port and 2RU 60-port models. All the ports are auto-sensing 1/10Gb Ethernet. The switch can forward frames with 600 nano seconds of latency port to port between ports in the same group, or 1.8 microseconds between ports on different port groups. The VDX also has field-reversible fans for front-to-rear or rear-to-front airflow. Other switch vendors often have different products based on airflow which are not field reversible.Other management features, include on-switch scripting, a feature that Arista Networks, Extreme, and Force10 also offer.On-switch scripting lets administrators write scripts to automate common tasks. Brocade has not yet integrated the VDX with its Network Advisor management application, but the integration is coming. In addition, the VDX supports NetConf, a standardized network configuration protocol.

Brocade offers pay-as-you-go port pricing. The 24-port VDX 6720 starts at $10,700 for 16 active ports. The cost for additional ports keeps the cost per port flat and is calculated as base price divided by number of port multiplied by the number of additional ports. The 60 port model can ship with 40 active ports, and 2 groups of 10 additional ports can be added.

The VDX product family contains a number of firsts, and we predict further improvements as the product line matures. By integrating SAN and Ethernet product features, Brocade's new OS is very flexible and simplifies management. The reliance on standard protocols for link aggregation means you can leverage multi-hop Ethernet within the VCS while integrating seamlessly with other networking products for a core tier. The product is also aggressively priced to attract customers.

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