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IBM gives Cisco some Brocade chatback

Switches sally forth

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Confirming dozens of speculative reports, IBM is taking Brocade switches and routers into its product line to build its answer to Cisco's entry into the server market.

In an OEM agreement, IBM will rebrand and resell the 1U Netiron CEX products as its C-Series Ethernet switch, the Fastiron stackable GS Series as its G-Series switch, the Netiron MLX Series as its M-Series router for metro applications, and the Fastiron SX Series as its S-Series switch for core data centre applications. These products were gained by Brocade through its Foundry acquisition.

IBM intends to expand its portfolio of Brocade products over time. It says the new OEM relationship strengthens its ability to deliver on its vision of a dynamic infrastructure that helps customers control costs, improve service, and manage risk.

The background to this is the entry of IBM networking supply partner Cisco into the unified data centre server business, with the strengthened Brocade partnership seen as a counterbalance to this.

The two companies say that their broad technology roadmap sees the introduction of 10Gbit Ethernet to today's 10Mbit, 100Mbit and 1Gbit Ethernet for general networking, plus the transition to 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel storage networking. This will be followed by the provision of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to converge both general and storage networking onto Ethernet, with the pair calling this 10Gbit/s Fibre Channel over Converged Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE).

IBM will later announce a B32 Converged Switch, its first top of rack (TOR) FCoCEE switch, presumably based on Brocade's 8000 product. It will also introduce a System Storage SAN768B director with 10/8/4/2 and 1Gbit/s Fibre Channel connectivity, ready for FCoE. This will converge the Fibre Channel and Ethernet-based protocols onto a single Ethernet fabric and help consolidate server, storage and network resources. The SAN768B is surely based on Brocade's DCX data centre backbone switch.

Further, IBM will announce a System Director 6.1.1 product with networking management. It will provide basic network management functions, the ability to discover, inventory and monitor network devices, launch vendor applications for configuration of network devices and see groups of network devices in System Director views.

Here we see the formation of IBM's answer to Cisco's UCS (Unified Computing System) and HP's Matrix. Now we await Dell's response and whatever the Oracle-ising Sun comes up with. You should be able to see more of IBM's ideas here though it was not live when we looked.

The new Brocade-sourced IBM products will be available from May onwards and be sold through IBM's global sales force, authorised business partners, and IBM Global Services. ®

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