SD2003: Rate the switch vendors

Rich Friedman, features editor, Storage magazine

At Storage Decisions 2003, one panel on rating the vendors became somewhat vocal. Panelists involved in "Rating the [Fibre Channel] switch vendors" were decidedly critical of the leading switch vendor, Brocade. They cited issues with the company's frequent changes in its future product roadmap. They also found Brocade falling short against products by competitors McData and Cisco Systems. "It will be a McData and Cisco market unless Brocade responds," one panelist said.

Panelists included end-users managing SANs with a high number of switch port counts, such as:

  • Sanjay Mandloi, vice president of J.P. Morgan Chase's LabMorgan technology division
  • Michael Passe, senior systems engineer for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston
  • Troy Brick-Margelofsky, senior systems and storage administrator for Land's End, Inc.

    All panelists agreed that the three key criteria for selecting a switch include:
    1. A high number of ports and ease of expandability
    2. The amount and flexibility of fabric services
    3. Volume management at the fabric level

    Also on the switch wish list are iSCSI, more security, zero downtime, and reduced ISL usage. Said Chase's Mandloi, "The vendors have to figure out how to give us more bandwidth without punts to ISLs."

    Another problem, according to the three panelists, is operability issues between switch vendors. "It's a big problem

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