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Brocade launches FCoE switch and adapters

End-to-end Ethernet storage networking in sight

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The DCFM management software can manage both the FCoE and FC environments, which is useful for existing Brocade FC customers considering an FCoE move.

Power and equipment cost savings

The pitch here is that CNAs can be used to converge Ethernet NIC and FC HBA traffic onto a single adapter card, thus saving server interface card and cabling costs, power costs and management effort. Likewise the 8000 can be used to converge an Ethernet switch and 8-port FC edge switch into a single unit, again saving costs.

Marty Lans, Brocade's senior director for product marketing, thinks there's a 50 per cent cut in power usage to be had by converging NICs and HBAs onto CNAs, and Ethernet and FC edge switches onto an 8000 switch.

Brocade intends to develop the 8000 switch so that a version can be used as a blade in its DCX switch, eliminating the need for the 8000 switch in customer data centres with a DCX. The DCX would receive all Ethernet traffic from servers and split it into traffic for Fibre Channel targets and Ethernet ones. When storage arrays are delivered with native FCoE interfaces - and QLogic says it is working with tier 1 and 2 storage array vendors to have its CNA ASIC added to their controllers - then the Ethernet infrastructure would extend end-to-end from servers through switches to storage array and other targets.

Brocade's CNA technology will be developed, first into smaller mezzanine cards for blade servers and then into single chips that can fit on a server's motherboard. Brocade is talking to its server OEMs about this road map. QLogic has the same CNA-as-a-chip strategy for its CNA technology.

All of Brocade's switch and director OEMs are engaged in qualification work with the CNAs according to Lans: "All the OEMS for HBAs should take our CNA (following qualification)." There isn't a 100 per cent take-up yet but he's hopeful. He says that the Brocade switch uses the same ASIC as the CNAs and this enables Brocade to offer Quality of Service features and encryption from the switch down to a port.

It will be, The Register believes, realistic to expect all CNAs to be qualified by all FCoE-supporting server OEMs and by all FC switch/director vendors. The open FC and Ethernet standards have served the networking industry very well and any attempts to impose a proprietary link between switch and CNA will be, Henrik Hansen, QLogic's European Marketing Director, believes, rejected by customers. In support of this notion, Lans confirms that the Brocade CNAs will be qualified against Cisco's switches.

Lans reckons that customers will move slowly to FCoE, with 2009 and 2010 being used for "tyre-kicking" inspections, with actual real-world deployments starting in 2011. There is a need for suppliers like Brocade to develop detailed and realistic total cost of ownership (TCO) studies to explain to tyre-kicking customers the DCE/FCoE migration benefits. Pricing and availability for the new Brocade products were not revealed. ®

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