Article

Brocade relaunches data center network monitoring service

Beth Pariseau, Senior News Writer

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. is dusting off Network Monitoring Service -- one of the assets that came with its 2006 acquisition of McData -- and will rerelease it as a managed service that proactively monitors customers' data center networking environments.

The Network Monitoring Service (NMS) is itself based on an offering that McData picked up when it bought switch rival CNT in 2005 and was passed to Brocade when Brocade acquired McData. NMS originally monitored SAN extension devices, such as FCIP routers, and is used by about 100 former McData customers.

Brocade will offer NMS on all its switches by early 2009. The company also plans to upgrade the monitoring service's transactional data center infrastructure and move it to a more secure location than the existing network operations center in Minnesota, said Mike Schmitt, Brocade Global Services director of network monitoring solutions. Brocade personnel will create reports and deliver services to customers based on alerts it receives in the new data center.

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The initial rollout will use information processed in the Brocade data center to correlate SNMP trap information from separate devices and perform root-cause analysis without the need for customers to sift through hundreds of notifications. Condensed alerts will be delivered directly to the customer, and Brocade personnel with access to the reports will initiate troubleshooting when appropriate.

Brocade will offer three levels of services: Basic NMS, Premium NMS and Premium Plus NMS. Premium NMS adds eight hours of customized report development and bi-annual benchmarking of performance and utilization on supported devices. Premium Plus NMS includes everything in Basic and Premium with 16 hours of report development, bi-annual assessment and recommendations on the data center fabric, trending and historical analysis, debug information collection, and SAN Health monitoring and reporting.

The services will be priced per device. Basic NMS support for a DCX backbone switch would cost $10,000 per year. The Premium and Premium Plus levels add a flat fee on top of the device-level pricing. For Premium that fee will be an additional $10,000 per 100 devices or $25,000 per 500 devices. Premium Plus pricing will add $25,000 per 100 devices, $40,000 per 500 devices and $60,000 per 1000 devices.

Despite those price tags, Gartner analyst Adam Couture that some users may find NMS an alternative to on-site residencies by vendor service engineers. He said, "Brocade has rediscovered that, with staff lost through attrition in an economic situation like the one we look to be facing, managed services are a cost-saving alternative."

Wider, deeper integration planned

Brocade's roadmap for NMS includes adding support for storage arrays and other third-party devices through APIs in the second quarter of 2009. Brocade will also integrate NMS with its Data Center Fabric Manager and SAN Health management tools. HBA and Industry Standard Architecture server support is expected in the third quarter, along with awareness of application SLAs and network Quality of Service (QoS) requirements. The goal by the fourth quarter is to offer end-to-end data center monitoring and reporting using workflow-based management tools.

With this move, Brocade is pushing further into a heating market space where its switch OEM partners already play. A Brocade spokesperson said the NMS product falls more under support for Brocade's devices than professional services at this point, and thus has not been rolled out under Brocade's recently acquired Strategic Business Systems (SBS) umbrella.

NMS is currently sold through several of Brocade's OEM Global Service Provider groups, such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard, and is generally available on all of Brocade's major OEMs' Master Service Agreements. "Brocade's approach and domain expertise give OEMs the ability to have their products supported in open (multivendor) environments that their tools and services cannot do alone," the Brocade spokesperson wrote in an email to SearchStorage.com.

As Brocade enhances NMS, the potential exists for some "coopetition" with partners, said IDC analyst Brad Nisbet. "Almost everybody ultimately wants to extend value and provide services for a bigger piece of the solutions pie," he said. "In the meantime, however, I do think there is room for individual suppliers to find their sweet spot of services. It will get interesting as the land grab continues, though."


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