Brocade Builds SANs For Small-Business, Remote Use

Cost and complexity have typically kept storage area networks (SANs) out of these lower-end market segments, according to Brocade CTO Jay Kidd. "What these kinds of customers care about is price and simplicity of deployment," Kidd said. "Most of them don't have fulltime storage staff and many don't have fulltime IT staff."

Brocade's new SilkWorm 3250 and 3850 Fibre Channel switches allow customers to start small and upgrade to larger fabrics and more advanced features like trunking, performance monitoring, and fabric security capabilities, the vendor said. Hewlett-Packard HP is already using the new Brocade fabric in eight- and 16-port switches it introduced earlier this month, with the eight-port version starting at $5,000, 22 percent less than comparable HP predecessors. IBM, Storage Technology Corp. and Sun Microsystems are expected to introduce their own SAN switches using the new Silkworm fabric.

The majority of low-cost servers shipped in 2003 were not SAN-ready, according to research from IDC. "Initiatives from SAN vendors such as Brocade that meet the cost and usability needs of SMBs will boost IT managers' ability to manage all storage assets and play a critical role in the continued growth of networked storage," said Richard Villars, vice president of storage research at IDC, in a statement.

Silkworm users will be able to scale their SANs, add features as needed, upgrade software, all without disruption of data flow or network operations, Brocade said.

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Brocade also updated the architecture of the Silkworm control plane so that all its switches are compatible up and down its product line. "This lets customers put the same attributes on all their switches and manage them in a common way," Kidd said.

Brocade and its competitor McData continue to drive down the cost of switches with implementations that are very cost-effective and provide customers more choices, according to Randy Kerns, senior partner of consultancy the Evaluator Group. "This is a very competitive battlefield and Brocade's doing some good things," he added.

*This story courtesy of