Brocade Expands DCX Backbone Series

Brocade (BRCD) today expanded its DCX Backbone line of data center switches with the DCX-4S, which offers the capabilities of the larger DCX Backbone in a smaller frame.

The Brocade DCX-4S Backbone, which is launching today.

The Brocade DCX-4S Backbone, which is launching today.

Brocade (BRCD) today expanded its DCX Backbone switching platform with the DCX-4S, which offers the capabilities of the larger DCX Backbone in a smaller chassis suitable for mid-size enterprise customers. 

The Brocade DCX Backbone was launched last January and optimized for core data center networks, with eight slots providing up to 384 ports of 8GB/second Fibre Channel or FICON connectivity. The DCX-4S has four slots and supports up to 192 ports, and can be deployed as a lower-cost core backbone or on the network edge. The DCX-4S is available now from Brocade, HP (HPQ) and Sun Microsystems (JAVA).

The DCX-4S "provides a more affordable SAN consolidation solution for the most demanding enterprise data centers," said Bob Wilson, vice president, Storage Platforms Division at HP.

Like its predecessor, the DCX-4S is "future built" to support the new Converged Enhanced Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) standards, as well as existing storage protocols. That breadth of support is significant as Brocade and rival Cisco Systems (CSCO) each vie to provide network infrastructure for enterprise data centers.

While Cisco's Data Center 3.0 roadmap focuses on a unified fabric connecting both servers and storage over FCoE, Brocade's strategy is built around its Data Center Fabric, which provides unified mangement of hybrid data center networks that continue to incorporate Ethernet and storage networking protocols like Fibre Channel and iSCSI. 

Brocade has historically focused on storage networking and Fibre Channel, but expanded into Ethernet networking last summer with the acquisition of Foundry Networks.  

Virtualization is driving demand for more powerful data center networks to support the movement of virtual machines across hardware resources. "As virtualization has spread throughout the data center, Fibre Channel continues to play a critical role," said Gautam Chanda, director of Networking Products at Sun Microsystems. Now with the introduction of the Brocade DCX-4S Backbone, Sun offers customers incredible performance, scalability and energy efficiency with long-term investment protection via support for both existing and emerging connectivity protocols."

While virtualization is creating challenges, it is also part of the solution. The DCX-4S employs a new "virtual fabric" capability in the latest release of the Brocade Fabris OS that allows a storage area network to be logically partitioned into isolated environments to support multiple fabrics in a single chassis. "Instead of using a bunch of smaller switches, you consolidate on one switch," said Bill Dunmire, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Brocade, who noted the energy benefits of consolidating. "A lot of our customers are running up against power limits, and we free up that power for servers. It can be a very significant savings."

Brocade is also introducing a new Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) for IBM System x servers. The HBA provides customers using Brocade and IBM gear and end-to-end solution to enhance input/output per port.

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