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Brocade: Vertically integrated IT stacks are dying

It always fails

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Comment "Vertically integrating the stack always fails," asserts Dave Stevens, Brocade's chief technology officer. He disagrees with the bosses of Cisco, EMC, HP, Oracle and VMware, though NetApp will love him.

The Brocade pitch is that you need best of breed products at each stack layer: system software; hypervisor, server, storage and network. Only that way can customers get the best value and avoid expensive and limiting lock-in.

The OVCB (Open Virtual Compute Block) scheme embraces Dell PowerEdge servers, Dell EqualLogic and Dell EMC CX storage, Brocade CNAs (Converged Network Adapters) and VDX switches, and Dell, VMware vCentre and Brocade management tools. EMC isn't taking part directly here by the way. But Brocade says it could, as third-party components for servers and storage could be used, probably even the Ethernet networking at a pinch.

Speaking at the Brocade VDX launch event in Frankfurt, Stevens expanded his thought with a Dell-flavoured Open Virtual Compute Block (OVCB 150) with VMware running in Dell servers having 160 cores and 10GB of RAM, accessing 260GB per core of Dell EqualLogic iSCSI storage, and twin Brocade VDX switches for a redundant fabric.

He contrasted this with a Vblock, featuring 128 cores and 8GB of RAM with 250GB of EMC iSCSI storage per core, saying it had a more complicated Ethernet hierarchy, the VDX enjoying the benefits of Brocade's layer-2, DCB-using, Ethernet fabric. The OVCB 150 was also, he said, more scalable, lower cost and offered more performance.

If you need more OVCB capacity, add another rack and link the VDX switches, with VMware and the VDX networking providing linking layers aggregating the OVCB racks together. If you run out of VDX linking capacity, meaning beyond ten VDX switches, then link a fresh set of OVCB racks to the first with Brocade's MLX router.

Stevens says this is "the epitome of automation and simplicity in the data centre". LIfe is simple in Brocade data centre world. He reckons: "We've got to a point in the industry where vertically integrated IT stacks are dying in the compute space."

Well, EMC, Cisco, HP, Oracle and VMware, which has invested in the Vblock VCE enterprise, might say: "Tell that to the marines." NetApp on the other hand might well say: "Get this man a FlexPod at once and build it with a VDX switch instead of a CIsco Nexus one. We'll have a FlexPod Brocade-style." ®

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