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This content is part of the Awards: Best data storage products 2018: Products of the Year
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Broadcom Brocade SAN automation

Broadcom automates SAN management using a command-line interface and open source tools connecting to Brocade fabric and switches in a storage area network.

Bronze winner in Storage magazine and SearchStorage's 2018 Products of the Year storage management tools category.

Venerable Fibre Channel switch maker Brocade picked up a bronze medal in its first year under the Broadcom Inc. banner for automation software that helps manage its devices.

Broadcom enables Brocade SAN automation by baking RESTful APIs directly into Brocade switch and management products and integrating the APIs into its Brocade Fabric Operating System (FOS) and SAN Management Platform. This allows IT admins to use the product as a tool to handle repetitive tasks such as provisioning, operational state monitoring and fabric inventory.

Brocade SAN automation does this by using the PyFOS Python scripting tool set run in a command-line interface (CLI), while the open source orchestration product Ansible can be used to establish automation operations for any storage systems in the infrastructure. Using predefined Python scripts in the PyFOS library enables administrators to establish consistent system operations such as logins, for example.

In addition to Python, the product supports APIs that work with other scripting languages, including JavaScript, PHP, Perl and Ruby. RESTful APIs enable any network device that supports them to be treated like a web server. Admins can access the device via a Secure Sockets Layer using the HTTP protocol, just like a website.

Brocade SAN automation's CLI brings automation to the switch level that helps reduce the cost and complexity of managing storage systems.

One judge said Fibre Channel fabrics are "by their nature, highly manual labor-intensive with many repetitive tasks subject to frequent human error." Regarding the easier automation enabled through Brocade SAN automation, the judge added, "That's a big change and much better than undocumented, unpatched, no quality assurance [ever] scripts."

Another judge observed, "If RESTful API management had been embraced by the industry sooner, SANs might never have become characterized as legacy." A third judge noted, however, that "just APIs that have to be used with a scripting language" wasn't what he thought of when hearing the term "automation." Though he did note it was free for Broadcom users of Brocade products.

Brocade SAN automation tools
Brocade SAN automation uses existing popular tools connected via APIs to automate SAN operations.

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What storage functions would your organization automate using the RESTful APIs in a product like the SAN automation from Broadcom?
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I can think of automating the creation and pushing of zones in your fabrics using RESTful APIs. With the zones in place and the Server Initiator devices being visible to the Target Storage Controller, you could then leverage the Automation techniques provided by the storage vendors to mask the LUNs and then create your MPIO paths. Just a thought. 
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