Tip

Brocade' SilkWorm 3200, a logical addition

The SilkWorm 3200 is a 2 Gbit/sec 8-port fabric switch using small form factor pluggable ports in a 1U enclosure. The SilkWorm 3200 edge switch is positioned as an entry-level product offering, complimenting the company's 2 Gbit/sec 16-port SilkWorm 3800 and 64-port SilkWorm 12000 core switch announced last year. The SilkWorm 3200 uses the same third-generation ASICs as the other 2-Gbit/sec SilkWorms and is currently shipping to OEM customers.

All the features of older SilkWorm products are contained in the SilkWorm 3200, and over time, the company expects the SilkWorm 3200 to replace the SilkWorms 2400 and 20x0. All SilkWorm 3200 features are also available through Brocade's API. Although no detailed pricing information was given, Brocade expects the street price for the SilkWorm 3200 to be under $1,000 per port.

Evaluator Group comments:

The SilkWorm 3200 is a logical addition to Brocade's product set. It has all the expected and required features of a full fabric 2-Gbit switch and is fully competitive with other 2-Gbit edge switches in its class. The merits of the SilkWorm 3200's 1U footprint could be argued either way. On the positive side, it requires little or no adjustments to rack mount configurations already designed for the 16-port SilkWorm 3800. However, the design wastes valuable rack mount space that could have otherwise been used to house a redundant entry-level switch configuration, similar to what QLogic's new 8-port SANbox

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does.

What really sets the SilkWorm 3200 apart from other 8-port 2-Gbit/sec switches are the rich management features common to all 2-Gbit SilkWorms, including Frame Filtering, Extended Fabrics and ISL Trunking, and security features such as trusted switch, fabric membership authorization, port configuration controls, multi-level passwords, encryption, and LUN masking. Although some of these features may not be used as extensively on entry-level configurations, the fact that they're available at the user's discretion and that they're common to all 2 Gbit SilkWorm products makes enterprise-wide SAN management more secure and easier to maintain.

Brocade's expectations of a street price of less that $1,000 per port is in line with where the industry is headed and in fact, is probably on the high side of the norm for today's 2 Gbit switches. The SilkWorm 3200 was later to ship in volume than some other 8-port 2 Gbit products. However, the significant number of endorsements from key OEMs such as Compaq, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard is proof that the product has been well accepted.

In our opinion, the SilkWorm 3200 marks the completion of Brocade's 2 Gbit product family introductions. This should enable its customers to quickly convert to 2 Gbit technology across the board and will allow Brocade to significantly ease the strain on company resources of maintaining such a large product set.

In summary, Brocade has rolled out a very solid product with useful management features that set the stage for improved SAN management, security, and optimization. The fact that all these features are also available via developer APIs is of paramount importance to Brocade's success with its OEM partners.

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This was first published in April 2002

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