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Brocade launches unified SAN-LAN resource management app, prepares 16-gig FC gear

Brocade rolled out a unified SAN-LAN resource management application that lets customers manage Fibre Channel and Ethernet network devices from one interface in anticipation of convergence around Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE); says 16 Gbps FC devices are coming with encryption and compression built in.

Brocade today launched a unified resource management application for storage and Ethernet networking devices, and pledged to upgrade its entire SAN platform to 16 Gbps Fibre Channel by the middle of next year.

Brocade Network Advisor (BNA), combines Brocade's Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) for Fibre Channel SANs and the IronView Network Manager (INM) for managing the Ethernet networking platform that Brocade acquired when it bought Foundry Networks. The new application will let customers manage devices for SANs and LANs as well as wireless and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MLPS) networks from one interface.

Brocade also rolled out an MLXe 100 GbE Core Router today during its analyst day in San Jose, Calf., and detailed the Virtual Cluster Switching platform it announced in June. But Brocade executives said they will maintain their Fibre Channel focus, and anticipate a slower rate of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) adoption than they previously predicted.

BNA will be available in November, Brocade director of product management Ajay Nilaver said in an interview before analyst day. He added that Brocade will offer an upgrade path for DCFM and INM customers and will wait at least a year discontinuing those products.

BNA's capabilities include configuration management, change management, traffic analysis, role-based access control, and reporting for switching devices across the data center. "Regardless of whether customers start with Fibre Channel or Ethernet, they can use the same management tools," Nilaver said.

Nilaver said he expects pricing to be similar to DCFM, which has a free entry level version for smaller switches, a $16,000 midrange version and a $38,000 version for large enterprises.

BNA will integrate with partner products such as EMC Ionix, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and Systems Director, VMware vCenter, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager and Hewlett-Packard Virtual Connect Enterprise Manager.

BNA is part of the vendor's Brocade One strategy around consolidating networks in anticipation of FCoE.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Bob Laliberte said Brocade wants BNA to appeal to both its FC and Ethernet customers before the networks converge.

"Storage users will find the interface very familiar and based on proven Brocade technology," Laliberte said. "Users on the LAN side may have a small learning curve, but the majority of FCoE clients will be large existing FC shops."

Laliberte said it's also important for Brocade to integrate with its partners' products because it relies on OEM and resellers more than its rival Cisco, which controls its go-to-market strategy with its Unified Computing System (UCS) convergence platform. Cisco alienated server vendors HP, IBM, and Dell by building its own server into UCS.

"Brocade will try to be as open as possible, and interoperate with everyone," Laliberte said.

Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and 16 Gbps Fibre Channel

Brocade has never been as gung-on about FCoE as Cisco, and executives at analyst day said they were more pessimistic about FCoE than they were a year ago. They said they would continue to push development of their core FC products through the next upgrade cycle from 8-gig to 16-gig FC.

"We're not sitting still on SAN," Brocade chief marketing officer John McHugh said. Brocade execs said they would support 16-gig FC in its backbone, embedded and core switches and host bus adapters by the middle of 2011. Brocade's 16-gig products will include a new ASIC with data encryption and compression built in.

The execs said drivers for 16-gig FC will include server virtual leading to higher SAN attach rates and virtual desktop requirements for lower latencies and higher I/O rates. McHugh said it will also appeal to customers who are in no hurry to move to FCoE.

"Sixteen-gig Fibre Channel will allow customers to transition through this process at the speed they want to go," he said.

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