Brocade Unveils 8-Gbps Fibre Channel With Virtualization Twist

storage bus Fibre Channel

The San Jose, Calif.-based storage vendor's new 8-Gbps Fibre Channel switches and HBAs are a follow-on to Brocade's entry last year into the HBA market, said Mahdu Matt, vice president of its Server Connectivity Division.

The new switches and HBAs are designed to meet the needs of today's evolving data center, said Mario Blandini, director of product marketing in the company's Data Center Infrastructure Division.

Data centers are now increasingly designed with power efficiency, utilization, resource flexibility, and data protection in mind, especially as business users with help from their solution providers look to consolidate storage infrastructures, Blandini said.

Those design requirements impact both server and SAN deployments, Blandini said. "VARs are working with customers not only on their server infrastructure, but also on creating the infrastructure in the rest of the data center to make sure everything is scalable," he said.

Sponsored post

With that in mind, Brocade on Monday unveiled a new series of intelligent Fibre Channel HBAs, including single-port and dual-port HBAs in both 4-Gbps and 8-Gbps versions.

The HBAs feature built-in intelligence specifically aimed at helping virtualize a data center's server infrastructure, Matt said.

This includes the ability to maintain the state of a running application while a virtual server is moved over the SAN, as well as the ability to suggest alternative routes across the SAN during times of network congestion, Matt said. The HBA ASIC also includes security capabilities to protect data in-flight as a virtual machine migrates across the SAN, he said.

Unlike the company's first HBAs, which were based on technology from LSI Corp., Milpitas, Calif., the new HBAs were developed in-house, Matt said.

Brocade also unveiled three new 8-Gbps Fibre Channel switches, including the Brocade 300 entry-level switch with eight to 24 ports, the Brocade 5100 switch with 24 to 40 ports, and the Brocade 5300 switch with 48 to 80 ports.

The switches offer 8-Gbps performance across all ports, with easy setup and a 40-percent savings in energy compared to earlier models, Blandini said.

As the industry looks towards the next level of SAN performance, it is natural for a company like Brocade to prepare both 8-Gbps Fibre Channel switches and HBAs, said Dan Carson, vice president of marketing and business development at Open Systems Solutions, a Willow Grove, Penn.-based storage solution provider.

But while the momentum is swinging towards increasing performance, the move has been slow due to a lack of products, Carson said.

"We haven't had a lot of customers pushing us towards [8-Gbps Fibre Channel]," he said. "And we haven't been pushing them. But those at the high-end of performance needs will be interested. There hasn't been a lot of products. But now that the solutions are available, as customers do product refreshes, they will insist on 8-Gbps Fibre Channel."

By making its Fibre Channel solutions server virtualization-friendly, Brocade is addressing a very important need, especially for customers implementing disaster recovery, Carson said.

"If a physical server goes down and one of its virtual servers moves to another server, it's important to maintain the state of any applications," he said. "Customers are moving towards high-availability fabrics which are virtualization-aware. As virtual servers move, all the applications need to move with it."

The new switches are now available from Brocade's distributors, as well as through its reseller partners IBM, Armonk, N.Y., and Sun Microsystems, of Santa Clara, Calif.

The switches, along with the new HBAs, are expected to be available in June from all Brocade distributors and reseller partners including Dell, Round Rock, Texas; EMC, Hopkinton, Mass.; the Engenio Storage Group of LSI Corp., Milpitas, Calif.; Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, Calif.; Hitachi Data Systems, Santa Clara, Calif.; and NetApp, Sunnyvale, Calif.