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Brocade debuts 2 Gbit/sec 8-port switch for low-end networks

Just a day after rival QLogic announced its new 8-port 2Gbit/sec Fabric switch, Brocade debuts one of its own. The new products make SANs accessible for many small- to mid-range shops. Upshot: They're smaller and cheaper.

Brocade has brought to market a switch that it says could make implementing a storage area network (SAN) a reality for many small- to mid-size companies.

The San Jose, Calif.-based switch maker announced Tuesday the SilkWorm 3200, an 8-port, 2 Gigabit per second (Gbit/sec) Fabric switch. The product targets mid-range business looking for entry-level storage area networks. The announcement is expected to help fuel demand for storage area networks among mid-size companies.

A week ago, rival switch maker QLogic Corp., Aliso Viejo, Calif., announced its own 8-port 2Gbit/sec Fibre Channel switch, which it says delivers the price/performance of 1Gbit Ethernet switches with an expected street price of $5,000 -- for around $800. The 2Gbit/sec SANbox2 8-port switch incorporates the same architecture as the SANbox2 16-port switch for plug compatibility with servers, storage, switches and software that have already been certified with SANbox2 16-port switches. The switch will be available in quantity in April 2002.

Small and medium businesses as well as enterprise departments and workgroups need the consolidation benefits provided by networked storage," said Robert Gray, IDC, research director, Worldwide Storage Systems. "Products such as the SilkWorm 3200 move the entry price point toward the equivalent points of Ethernet networks. This will help accelerate the migration from direct attached storage to Fibre Channel based networked storage."

According to Brocade, the SilkWorm 3200 delivers the availability, manageability, security, and scalability of the Brocade SilkWorm product family at a price that is optimized for entry-level SANs. The SilkWorm 3200 provides a cost-effective storage networking solution to support Windows NT/2000, Linux, and low-end Unix server clustering applications, replace legacy hub or loop switch devices, and serves as a stepping stone to enterprise-wide SAN deployment.

"We've raised the bar on entry-level SANs," said Steve Beer, a Brocade spokesperson. "Everyone is announcing a 2Gbit/sec switch--it's where the market is going. The key to really opening up this entry-level space, however, is the 8-port. You can do two 8 ports for less [cost] than 16 in the front end."

The SilkWorm 3200 is the latest in a line of 2 Gbit/sec Fabric Switches based on the Brocade Intelligent Fabric Services Architecture, including the SilkWorm 3800 16-port Enterprise Fabric Switch and the SilkWorm 12000 64/128-port Core Fabric Switch.

The SilkWorm 3200 is available today from Brocade OEM partners. Product pricing varies depending on OEM configuration. Brocade expects typical end user pricing to be less than $1000 per port.

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4 Gbit Fibre Channel switch purchase considerations Switches are particularly crucial in a storage area network (SAN) to interconnect servers and storage devices into the overall SAN fabric. As SANs scale up, data centers are often upgrade and expand the SAN switch infrastructure. In most cases, the switch fabric is based on traditional Fibre Channel (FC) technology for its high speed, low latency and advanced reliability features such as ISL trunking, as well as security features that protect the storage network. Faster switch ports not only allow for faster interconnections, but also support several slower devices connected to the same port (e.g., two 2 Gbit storage devices fanned in to a single 4 Gbit switch port). This tactic can help to mitigate the cost of 4 Gbit ports by reducing the total switch port count. The actual choice of an enterprise switch demands careful consideration of issues like speed, performance, port count and interoperability. This segment will first focus on specific considerations for director-class 4 Gbit FC switches. After that, you'll also find a series of specifications to help make on-the-spot product comparisons between vendors.

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