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Brocade Scores An 'A' In Enterprise Campus Networking

Brocade is looking to shake up the enterprise campus networking market with a new set of solutions that will deliver a 35% total cost of ownership advantage. Due out this month, with a starting price of $5,595, the ICX 6610 is an Ethernet access switch that combines chassis-like reliability and performance with the flexibility and affordability of a stackable switch, says the company. The line delivers five times the stacking bandwidth of the leading competitor and 8-by-10 Gigabit Ethernet uplink ports and the highest aggregation bandwidth in its class.

Also available this month are the FastIron SX Series modules starting at $4,495; Multi-Chassis Trunking (MCT) will be available in early 2012 for this series. Brocade is also announcing an immediate price reduction for the FCX Series stackable switches.

Brocade's claims clearly hit on the point that the campus LAN has become more standardized, and with this shift it is clearly possible to drive down the costs of campus networks, says Gartner's Mark Fabbi, VP, distinguished analyst, network and data center infrastructure. "Gartner’s advice to enterprises is to target a minimum of 30%, but potentially a 50%, reduction in expenditures when upgrading this portion of the network. At the edge of the network, performance numbers aren’t particularly meaningful--all the players can provide more than enough capacity and capabilities to connect devices to the network. At the aggregation/campus core level, performance becomes more important to support the increasing amounts of rich media that is traversing the network; delivering improved performance levels at reduced prices should certainly be part of the evaluation criteria.”

Responsible for Brocade's campus business, Joe Ammirato says the new solutions are intended to address an enterprise solution gap, bridging the divide between over-engineered, complex and expensive solutions versus basic, inflexible and affordable solutions. "Together, these solutions deliver five times the performance at one-third the price of comparable Cisco offerings." At $13 billion annually, the campus networking market is the largest of all networking market segments, he says.

Equipped with new high-density 8-by-10 Gigabit Ethernet blades, the Brocade FastIron SX can scale up to 128 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Additional new features include Multi-Chassis Trunking (MCT), for active-active resiliency that delivers twice the bandwidth of traditional active-passive redundant designs, plus MACsec and Energy Efficient Ethernet (EEE)-ready hardware for investment protection.

While the pricing implications are important, Fabbi thinks the most significant part of the announcement is the simplification of Brocade's campus switch portfolio. "Reducing the complexity of the offering will clearly help Brocade." He adds that the trend toward competitive evaluations and procurement is expected to continue, and that this announcement illustrates the moves by one of the viable players to continue to exploit the ongoing standardization and competitiveness in the market.

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