Brocade Intros Complete 16-Gbps Fibre Channel For Cloud Transition

Brocade introduced both the new products and its vision of the future of cloud computing at a press and analyst event held this week in its San Jose, Calif. headquarters.

Jason Nolet, vice president of data center and enterprise networking at Brocade, said that high-performance networking protocols are key to building cloud computing infrastructures, especially as increased virtualization places strains on existing infrastructures.

Fibre Channel by far remains the most widely-used protocol for networking virtual server hosts to storage, and 8-Gbps Fibre Channel is well positioned to offer the scalability, performance, and resiliency needed to push cloud adoption, Nolet said.

New customer workloads are also driving higher storage performance requirements, Nolet said. For instance, he said that the number of virtual desktops deployed should reach 50 million by 2013, up from 5 million today, making it essential that customers have the infrastructure to serve thousands of desktop images and applications in the first 30 minutes of every business day.

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Between 1996 and 2009, CPU performance increased by about 175 times while spinning disk drive performance increased by only 1.3 times, creating an ever-increasing gap between compute and storage performance, Nolet said.

Customers are trying to bridge that gap with SSDs, which can lower latency while increasing performance. "But as SSD performance improves, it's also important to increase the performance of the network," he said. "Otherwise, the performance of the SSD is under used."

As customers transition to cloud computing, the underlying networking and storage fabrics need to scale, Nolet said. Customers will also need to improve storage performance to handle emerging workloads like virtual desktops, he said.

To improve the storage side of the transition to cloud computing, Brocade on Tuesday unveiled a new family of 16-Gbps Fibre Channel backbone devices, switches, and host bus adaptors (HBAs).

Included is the Brocade DCX 8510, a new SAN backbone which supports up to 384 16-Gbps ports and a total of 8.2 terabits per second of chassis bandwidth, which Nolet said is up to 7 times the bandwidth of competitive SAN backbones.

The DCX 8510 supports native Fibre Channel connections with encryption and compression between data centers up to 60 miles apart, he said.

Also new is the Brocade 6510 switch, a 1U device which supports 24, 36, or 48 Fibre Channel ports which can be configured for 2-, 4-, 8-, or 16-Gbps, Nolet said. The 6510 supports in-flight encryption and compression.

When configured with 16-Gbps Fibre Channel, the 6510 offers about 40 percent more performance than 10-Gbpe Ethernet at a comparable price point, he said.

Nolet also introduced the Brocade 1860 Fabric Adapter, a new server adapter for cloud-optimized data center networks that delivers wire-speed performance for both 16-Gbps Fibre Channel and 10-Gbps Ethernet. The 1860 can be purchased in a single-port and dual -port version, with each port able to be carved up into either eight virtual 10-Gbps Ethernet ports or eight virtual 16-Gbps Fibre Channel HBA ports.

Brocade also introduced a new version of its Brocade Network Advisor unified management solution for the company's Fibre Channel, wired Ethernet, wireless Ethernet, and converged network environments, and a new version of its Brocade Fabric operating system with new features for supporting virtualized and cloud infrastructures.

The new 16-Gbps Fibre Channel technologies are schedule to start shipping during the second quarter, with pricing scheduled to be available at that time.