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Brocade extends SAN switching platform for DR, density

Brocade adds Fibre Channel SAN extension switch and denser 16 Gbps card for its backbone director switch with an eye on moving data across distances.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. extended its Fibre Channel SAN gear lineup today with a bigger extension switch...

used for disaster recovery and a denser 16 gigabits per second director switch port blade.

The Brocade 7840 Extension Switch can deliver 80 gigabits per second (Gbps) of application data over distance with 256-bit IPSec encryption. The Brocade FC16-64 is a 64-port blade for the vendor's DCX 8510 Director.

Brocade SAN switching uses Fibre Channel (FC) and FC over IP (FCIP) to provide point-to-point connectivity of remote SAN fabrics or FCIP WANs. They are used primarily for remote replication, backup and data migration, and serve as an alternative to WAN optimization appliances.

The 7840 is a 2U box with 24 16 Gbps FC ports, two 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports for Quad Small Form Factor Pluggable (QSFP), cabling, and 16 GbE or 10 GbE FCIP ports. QSFP is a high-density fiber used for 40 GbE.

Brocade Director of Product Marketing Scott Shimomura called the 7840 "the big brother to the 7800 Extension platform," which includes 16 8 Gbps FC ports and six GbE ports.

Brocade extension switching is usually deployed in pairs on each site for redundancy. Shimomura said about half of Brocade's extension switches connect SANs on either side and the rest go direct to an array or tape library without going through a second SAN.

The 7840 switch allows for non-disruptive upgrades, the ability to trunk WAN connections, and adaptive rate limiting that dynamically adjusts bandwidth sharing between pre-set limits.

The FC16-64 port blade allows the DCX 8510 to scale to 512 16 Gbps ports with a total of 10.2 terabytes per second of system bandwidth. It includes 16 QSFP ports per blade. The new blade comes less than three months after Brocade's FC switch rival Cisco unveiled a 48-port 16 Gbps module for its SAN switching.

Brocade today also launched Brocade Network Advisor 12.3 for SAN software, adding point-in-time playback, a REST programmatic interface and Web client. The playback features lets customers rewind historical data from 30 minutes to 30 days to find problems with the SAN.

"Think of it as TiVo for your SAN," said Truls Myklebust, Brocade's director of product management. "You can rewind and see what the state of your network was 30 minutes or 30 days ago."

The REST API allows third-party applications or custom-built applications to integrate with Brocade's software, and the Web client allows customers to access the BNA dashboard through a Web browser.

Shimomura said the new switch and card is available through SAN array vendors EMC and Hitachi Data Systems, with other storage vendors expected to roll them out in the coming months.

FC networking product releases have become rare in the industry. Most of them focus on upgrading products to the latest bandwidth standard. Brocade's new products are what it calls Gen5, or 16 Gbps FC.

"We generally do one launch a year for our SAN product group," Shimomura said. "This year it's about extending our fabric technology over distance."

IDC Research Director Eric Burgener said SAN devices supporting more bandwidth and the ability to move more data has become more important because of data center trends such as disaster recovery for virtual machines (VMs), the cloud and the proliferation of mobile devices.

"People are moving more data than ever before," he said. "With entire workloads virtualized, and people sharing data over the Internet and putting it into the cloud, there are a lot of reasons to have to move data and a lot more of it to move these days.

"We're also seeing companies move VMs between on-premises and off-premises storage," he added. "They weren't doing that five years ago."

Next Steps

40 GbE technology is still around the corner

Brocade gains software-defined networking support

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