Brocade Ups Ante On Tapestry Strategy

Tapestry server provisioning strategy

As partners begin to get their hands around Tapestry, Brocade, San Jose, Calif., has enhanced its supplemental field support and improved supplemental installation services, operational services, architectural assistance and migration assistance, said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of marketing, at a Brocade partner and user conference Monday in New York.

Process and compliance audits are also now offered by Brocade, said Buiocchi. All service offerings went live June 1.

A hands-on simulation tool that "brings a Brocade lab to your desktop" is also now available to partners, Buiocchi said. The simulation tool, which is a free download from the vendor, enables IT administrators to model the deployment of new Brocade products and better understand and make improvements, Buiocchi said.

He said Brocade was not trying to grab service dollars from partners, but wanted to be available to make deployments succeed while partners get accustomed to the new offerings. All services are billed based on the time, materials and complexity of a specific project, he said.

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Brocade this fall also plans to introduce Multiprotocol Router 2, a router that provides an easy avenue to migrate away from 1Gbit and 2Gbit switches from competitor McData, Denver. During his presentation, Buiocchi said the new router would "provide connectivity between McData and Brocade to selectively migrate from one fabric to another."

Buiocchi declined to comment on any intention by Brocade to launch an aggressive McData displacement strategy with the new router. But one Brocade integration partner attending the conference from Philadelphia said customers of his who have mixed McData/Brocade switching environments would like to migrate away from McData because of Brocade's "ease of administration."

Creating the need for the service and education offerings is Tapestry, Brocade's new server provisioning strategy and product offering, as well as the vendor's move to standardize all of its products on 4-Gbps throughput.

Brocade, which has traditionally focused on the fibre channel SAN switch market, acquired Therion Software in May for $9.3 million and launched a SAN-centric server provisioning product called the Tapestry Application Server Manager, or ARM.

ARM's greatest strength is in IT environments being built on the backbone of diskless server farms, which employ blade servers that draw from shared storage, or in similar environments where servers are provisioned to run on a master system image, Buiocchi said.

With ARM, administrators can take a diskless, out-of-the-box server blade, plug it into an ARM-enabled network and complete the operating system imaging, network configuration, server access controls, IP addressing and other setup points in about two or three minutes, Buiocchi said.

ARM works on the paradigm that if you feed an application only what it needs—servers, storage, and system image—you can stop dedicating hardware to house exclusive operations, said Buiocchi. In practice, this means ARM can create a true, dynamic environment for applications by allowing them to draw from available, authorized network resources and not be restricted within the confines of dedicated hardware, such as an e-mail server or a file server. The net result is lower hardware costs, better application performance and fewer islands of network operation, he said.