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Brocade sees SSDs changing storage landscape

Switch vendor Brocade is doubling down on its efforts to prepare for the emergence of solid state drives (SSDs) and flash in storage arrays.

Brocade earlier this year instituted a Solid State Ready program for flash and hybrid array vendors to test their systems with Brocade’s Fibre Channel switching. This week it expanded that program to include testing of Ethernet for NAS and iSCSI SANs. Fujitsu America Inc., Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard, NetApp, Nimble Storage, Pure Storage, Saratoga Speed, SolidFire, Skyera, Tegile Systems and Violin Memory are part of the Ready program.

Brocade executives have pointed to SSDs as a driver of 16 Gbps FC SANs because SSDs are used in high performance use cases.
Jack Rondoni, Brocade’s VP of storage networking, said Solid State Ready will help vendors prepare for changes that SSDs will bring.

“People are thinking about their storage architecture differently” because of SSDs,” Rondoni said. “I believe it will be as disruptive as server virtualization.

“We’re doing more than others – short of buying a company, which we won’t do – to help transition to SSD technology.”

That was a poke at Brocade’s switch competitor Cisco for its 2013 acquisition of flash array vendor Whiptail.

Rondoni said Brocade added Ethernet to the Solid State Ready program because, while SSD “deployments have been clean for Fibre Channel, they can get dicey with Ethernet.”

While Brocade sells FC and Ethernet switches and sees both playing a role independently in storage , it is far less bullish than Cisco on Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).

“FCoE to a storage array is a dead technology,” Rondoni said. “It has value in a top of rack switch to the server, but not to storage.”

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