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FCOE

FCOE removes FC ports from servers and converges server-to-server and server-to-(block) storage onto Ethernet, an enhanced Ethernet (CEE - Converged Enhanced Ethernet). The FCOE destination is FC storage, FCOE being an I/O consolidation play for servers, a first hop. Brocade reckons that the FC incumbent has a huge advantage in being the FCOE vendor of choice. Like today's FC networks, it does not expect mixed-vendor FCOE - FC networks.

There will be FCOE concept validation in 2008/9, greenfield server-edge deployments starting in 2010, second generation FCOE products in 2011/12 and new FCOE storage perhaps appearing in 2012/13.

Brocade will introduce its first a top-of-rack FCOE switch, by end-2008, and it will be a fabric gateway for server FCOE HBAs and also be a server-to-server and server-to-corporate network link product.

The second FCOE product will be an end-of-rack-row FCOE switch with 24 x 10GbE ports, produced as a DCX blade.

DCX

The Data Center Switch (DCX) is positioned as a FC SAN backbone now. It will help server consolidation wih FCOE in 2009 and provide server-to-server connectivity with CEE in 2009. This puts it up against InfiniBand as a server-to-server link with InfiniBand coming at this from the compute node-intensive HPC market. We might expect Brocade to say that the trend is for network consolidation and convergence. Why open the door to eject Fibre Channel if you are going to bring InfiniBand in through it?

Brocade will introduce a 10GbE core blade in 2H '09 with 36 or 48 ports, enabling a 384 x 10GbE port DCX. The blade will support FC, FCOE, IEEE CEE layer 2 and IPv4/IPv6 protocols.

The Server Edge

Brocade reckons server virtualisation changes the HBA game with greater host connectivity intelligence and greater performance required. End-to-end network automation is required to enable application mobility. This is why it is entering the HBA market.

It is providing 8 and 4Gbit/s HBAs for servers, in mezzanine format for blade servers. It will also provide 10GbE FCOE adapters, also in mezzanine format, in the first half of 2009. For some reason Brocade isn't using the Converged Network adapter (CNA) term in its marketng.

It is also now using its own ASIC design instead of the PMC-Sierra-supplied ASIC in its first generation HBAs (whose performance was trashed by Emulex' independent tester.)

It says its HBAs have a hardware FC stack whereas its competitors have firmware stacks, giving it 'the highest levels of performance in the industry,' mentioning 500,000 IOPS per port and N_Port trunking. These HBA's have an on-chip encryption engine for in-flight data protection. It also says they are greener, having an industry-leading power-performance ratio.

Brocade was emphatic that it has major OEM commitments for both FC HBAs and FCOE cards, no names though.

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