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Earlier this year Brocade Communications Systems Inc. completed the acquisition of the assets of Rhapsody Networks, writes Tony Lock. Last week Brocade announced the first fruits that the new technology will bring as it released details of the initial tranche of software vendors that are writing to the platform.

Last month Brocade released details of the Silkworm Fabric Application Platform, the system that it is building from the Rhapsody tools it acquired last November. The open platform enables independent software vendors (ISVs) to port their capabilities to the fabric itself thereby providing customers with an alternative, effective route to manage their networked storage environment. There is absolutely no doubt that almost every organisation is under pressure to increase the performance and utilisation of their storage infrastructure whilst reducing the associated cost of ownership.

The platform is designed to host "storage management" applications in the storage network fabric itself rather than on application servers or the storage hardware. Typical candidates to be run in this architecture include data movement systems (replication, snap shots etc.), volume management, data management and data security technologies. It is important to note that the capability to host any fabric-based applications can be provided through the addition of a Silkworm Fabric Application switch to an existing Brocade infrastructure. There is no requirement to replace every existing switch in the fabric.

In order for this new offering to be attractive to potential users there is an absolute requirement for ISVs to become actively involved, as Brocade has no plans to develop the application software itself. It is in this area that Brocade is now beginning to attract partners, with no fewer than eight companies now committed to port software to the platform. At the ENSA@Work storage show HP became the first to announce that it is working in partnership with Brocade to deploy HP VersaStor tools on the new platform.

Last week Alacritus Software, CommVault Systems, FalconStor Software, Incipient Inc., InterSAN Inc., StoreAge Networking Technologies Inc. and Topio joined HP in announcing their support for the new platform.

At the same time Brocade released a software developers kit (SDK) for the application platform. The kit will be available to qualified software providers wishing to port their solutions to the Brocade Fabric platform. The SDK allows coders to exploit the new Xpath API and services that support a broad range of block storage capabilities.

The history of technology clearly shows that as hardware becomes commoditised software takes over to provide functionality that was originally placed within the hardware technology itself. In networked storage it is likely that "cheaper" storage hardware platforms, such as Serial ATA etc., may well start to be utilised in increasingly sophisticated systems as storage management software tools evolve.

If Brocade can continue to develop its Silkworm Fabric Application Platform and attract the major ISVs the platform has the potential to play a significant role hosting these software tools in the not too distant future. If progress continues apace it is hoped that the first generation of platform-hosted software will begin to be woven into storage fabrics towards the end of this year.

©IT-Analysis.com

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