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Brocade recruits partners for new switching platform

Brocade Communications' acquisition of Rhapsody Networks is complete, and the company is moving ahead with plans to garner industry support for its new switching platform.

Last week, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. closed the books on the acquisition of switch startup Rhapsody Networks Inc., Fremont, Calif., and now the company is on a recruiting campaign. Brocade has signed up several vendors to write applications for its upcoming line of "intelligent" switch products, which are based on Rhapsody's technology.

Brocade, San Jose, Calif., announced that seven storage management companies, including Alacritus Software, CommVault Systems, FalconStor Software, Incipient, InterSAN, StoreAge Networking Technologies and Topio are designing new storage management software based on Brocade's SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform, which is a rebranded continuation of Rhapsody's XPath API program.

Experts expect the list of partners to grow.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said he fully expects that all storage vendors who can write to the SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform will do so.

"Brocade ships a lot of [products], so I think most vendors in the space want to write for the platform," Duplessie said.

There's one more storage name on board the SilkWorm Fabric bandwagon. Last month, Hewlett-Packard Co. announced its intentions to collaborate with Brocade to design fabric-based management software into HP VersaStor technology.

Basically, these companies are developing applications that will run on Brocade switches in the SAN fabric rather than on a host or storage subsystem. The platform is designed to host fabric-based applications like data movement, volume management and data management.

To speed up the process, Brocade made its software developer's kit (SDK) for the SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform available to qualified partners. Brocade said the developer's kit is open to independent software vendors and will help accelerate time to market. Developers get a look at application-level APIs and services, which support a range of block storage capabilities, including virtual disk, virtual tape, copy-on-write snapshots, n-way mirroring and online data migration, Brocade said.

The architecture for the upcoming Brocade switching platform hosts fabric applications directly and supports multiple protocols, including Fibre Channel and IP, which are accessed through the XPath API.

Brocade spokesman Dave Stevens, who is one of Rhapsody's founders, said that, technologically, the sky's the limit now that the Rhapsody engineering team has access to Brocade's team of experts and resources.

"We've learned more about compatibility and interoperability [recently] than we've learned in the last five years," Stevens said, adding that the things learned are the kind that Rhapsody might never have learned as a startup.

Stevens said the new SilkWorm product will be an application engine on a full-blown fabric switch, a powerful device that packs more processing power than a normal host machine.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Brocade paid approximately $175 million for Rhapsody. As a result of the acquisition, Brocade expects to deliver a new line of fabric application switches, which it said would be fully interoperable with the Brocade SilkWorm family of Fibre Channel fabric.

Brocade estimates that the first fabric applications based on these platforms will be available from specified OEM partners by the end of 2003.


Brocade buys Rhapsody Networks, plans new switches

Rhapsody software deal could carry over to Brocade products

Products of the Year: Brocade SilkWorm 3200

Let us know what you think of this story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer

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