Brocade Sharpens Focus on Service Providers

The new Brocade 100 GbE blades, which can be installed in the Brocade MLXe routers to build networks for service providers.

As cloud computing continues to grow and evolve, a large volume of new cloud capacity will be deployed through service providers. Storage networking vendor Brocade today sharpened its focus on these service provider, rolling out new equipment to support “cloud-optimized networks.”

At its annual Technology Day at its San Jose, Calif. campus, Brocade (BRCD) announced a complete cloud networking solution for service providers, faster Fibre Channel storage networking gear, and new customers for its push into high-speed Ethernet. Brocade also announced support for the Open Stack cloud computing suite, as well as continuing support for the OpenFlow standard for open networking configuration. The company also outlined its CloudPlex visipon for the virtual enterprise of the future.

Major Opportunity with Providers

Brocade sees a major opportunity with service providers that are expanding to meet customer interest in cloud services. Many of these companies are building new data centers and seeking technologies and equipment that will ease their transition. The enterprise focus on hybrid clouds places a premium on networks that can smoothly connect data centers at customer premises with service provider facilities.

“For service providers, their network is the cloud,” said Ken Cheng, Vice President, Service Provider Products, Brocade. “Service providers want to provide network services to their enterprise customers and, on top of that, they want to deliver application-level services from the data center. Since Brocade has both data center as well as service provider networking expertise, we are uniquely qualified as a strategic partner to help service providers build out their cloud infrastructures and deliver profitable cloud-based services.”

The offerings for providers were part of a broad roll-out of new products as Brocade outlined its vision and roadmap. Here’s a look at Brocade’s new offerings from its Technology Day 2011:

Faster Fibre Channel Gear

Brocade announced new products designed to further boost its market position in Fibre Channel storage networking, the company’s historic focus. Brocade’s new switches all support network fabrics based on 16 gigabit per second Fibre Channel technologies.

These include the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone switch, which is available in 8-slot or 4-slot chassis models supporting up to 384 16 Gbps ports and up to 8.2 terabits per second (Tbps) of chassis bandwidth. Brocade touted the 8510’s energy consumption of 0.27 watts/Gbps.

Other new Fibre Channel offerings include the Brocade 6510 Switch, a 1U switch optimized for server virtualization, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and solid state disk (SSD) deployments; and the Brocade 1860 Fabric Adapter, an adapter that supports Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Ethernet connectivity needs on a single adapter for flexible server I/O consolidation.

The adapter allows users to unify the management of storage area networks (SANs) and Ethernet-based local area networks (LANs) via a single interface. This unified network concept has been a major competitive focus for major networking vendors, with each emphasizing an approach based on their historic strengths.

For Brocade, that means Fibre Channel. Doug Ingram, the VP of Data Center Products for Brocade, says customer decisions on converged networks will be guided by their internal requirements rather than debates over protocols. “The big question is how much storage traffic you have and how much data traffic you have,” said Ingram.

Ethernet Products

Brocade also announced “strong customer adoption” for its Ethernet fabric solutions, which are helping customers to simplify their data center network architectures. While Brocade has focused on Fibre Channel, it entered the Ethernet market with its 2008 acquisition of Foundry Networks.

“Fibre Channel fabric technology continues to be the top customer choice for creating the most reliable and high-performance virtualized server and storage environments,” said said Jason Nolet, Vice President, Data Center and Enterprise Networking, Brocade. “In addition, Ethernet fabrics have the potential to define data center network architectures for the next decade. Both technologies demonstrate the highly integral and strategic nature that networks play in support of virtualization and the migration to the private cloud.”

Service Providers

Brocade sees its support of open standards like Open Stack and OpenFlow as a key differentiator in its pitch to service providers, enabling them to create standards-based cloud infrastructures. Brocade was one of the first networking vendors to endorse OpenFlow, an emerging standard for delivering software-defined networking capabilities, and the company is now actively involved in the OpenStack Compute and OpenStack Storage standards.

At Tech Day, Brocade outlined how its offerings can work together to help service providers support cloud customers. The offerings include:

  • A new set of carrier-grade 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 100 GbE blades for Brocade MLX Series routers to enable massive scalability for highly virtualized and cloud-based networks.
  • Enhanced IPv4/IPv6 and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) routing capabilities and scalability for the Brocade NetIron CER 2000 Series compact routers to expand the service provider cloud in metro networks.
  • The Brocade 6910 Ethernet Access Switch, a new metro network solution that can extend networks to customer premises.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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