Brocade Unveils CloudPlex Cloud Infrastructure Plans

CloudPlex represents Brocade's strategy for combining compute, storage and networking components into a single converged architecture, bringing the storage and IP networking vendor into the converged infrastructure market currently occupied by such vendors as rival Cisco and partner Hewlett-Packard.

However, Brocade said that, unlike many of its competitors, its CloudPlex cloud architecture is much more flexible in that it does not require customers purchase their components from a single vendor.

CloudPlex is Brocade's architecture for merging public, private, and hybrid clouds by providing a framework on which customers can integrate compute, storage, and networking blocks -- including customers' existing multi-vendor infrastructure -- into a single compute and storage domain, said Dave Stevens, CTO at Brocade.

Key to CloudPlex are tested and validated server, virtualization, networking, and storage resources called Brocade Virtual Compute Blocks. These blocks are slated to be provided by partners, and can be integrated with each other to provide a flexible and scalable cloud computing solution, Stevens said. Scalability comes by connecting multiple Virtual Compute Blocks together, he said.

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CloudPlex provides fabric and network extension inside and between data centers by supporting a variety of connectivity protocols including VPLS (virtual private LAN services), FCIP (Fibre Channel over IP), and FICON.

However, sometime within the next 18 months, Brocade plans to introduce a new technology, code-named "Starlifter," which combines compute, virtualization, storage, and networking into a single WAN connection which makes it easy to extend CloudPlex over multiple data centers, Stevens said.

Brocade also plans within the next 18 months to introduce other technologies that enable customers' applications to be segmented across multiple domains regardless of what IP networking scheme is being used, he said. As a result, applications can move from cloud to cloud without impacting their security or SLAs (service level agreements), which makes it possible to build hybrid cloud environments, he said.

In order to manage the multi-vendor environment resulting from CloudPlex, Brocade is one of 50 members of the OpenStack consortium, Stevens said. OpenStack is a collection of open-source technologies aimed at delivering a massively scalable cloud operating system.

In order to enable CloudPlex, Brocade plans to introduce new high-performance networking technologies in the near future, Stevens said.

One of them is 32-Gbit-per-second Fibre Channel, which currently is in the engineering stage and could be ready in the next two-and-a-half to three years, Stevens said. It is the follow-on to the 16-Gbps Fibre Channel technology Brocade introduced on Tuesday.

Brocade also plans to develop in the near future a new chassis-based core switch capable of being configured with over 750 Gbit Ethernet or over 100 100-Gbit Ethernet ports. That chassis, code-named "Project Mercury," will be based on switch stacks and ASICs currently used in other Brocade products, Stevens said.

Stevens said Brocade's CloudPlex approach to building cloud infrastructure has the advantage over vertically-integrated storage, server, and networking solutions. Those solutions may initially offer a performance advantage, but customers' ability to pick and choose their own components eventually makes the open approach the better of the two as the technology improves over time, he said.