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Brocade fleshes out cloud strategy for battle with Cisco, others

Brocade's 16G Fibre Channel SAN and 'CloudPlex' architecture fill key roles

By , Network World
May 03, 2011 11:09 AM ET
Brocade 6910 managed services switch

Network World - Brocade today unveiled its plan for migrating customers to distributed, virtualized, cloud-based data centers, along with products supporting that plan.

Brocade's new CloudPlex framework defines the components from Brocade and its partners that are required to get to what Brocade calls the "Virtual Enterprise." Last summer, the company introduced its Brocade One architecture that started Brocade down the road of virtualizing data centers. Brocade One was broader, however, encompassing the "anywhere access to anything" direction; CloudPlex attempts to show people how to get there.

All major switching vendors are pushing cloud computing visions and architectures. CloudPlex and its associated products will go up against Cisco's Nexus/FabricPath, Juniper's recently unveiled QFabric, Arista's 7000 series switches and Extensible Operating System, Avaya's VENA, Alcatel-Lucent's "Application Fluent" switches, and platforms and proposals from Enterasys, Extreme and Force10.

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The differentiator for Brocade, as always, is the emphasis on storage connectivity and resiliency, and backward compatibility.

Some of the components of CloudPlex are available today while others are in development or on Brocade's roadmap. The currently available components are:

• Networks comprised of Ethernet fabrics and Fibre Channel fabrics as the CloudPlex foundation. These would be Brocade's VDX Ethernet switches and Fibre Channel SAN switches, including new 16Gbps SAN products.

• Multiprotocol fabric adapters for simplified server I/O consolidation; Brocade CNAs.

• Application delivery products -- Brocade ServerIron -- necessary for balancing network traffic across distributed data centers.

Planned components include:

• Integrated, tested and validated bundles of server, virtualization, networking and storage products called Brocade Virtual Compute Blocks. Brocade said it will enable its systems partners and integrators to deliver Virtual Compute Blocks in pre-bundled, pre-racked configurations, and supported by Brocade partners.

• A new platform capable of supporting a number of IP, SAN and mainframe extension technologies including virtual private LAN services (VPLS), Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) and FICON.

• An extension of Brocade's Fabric ID technology called "Cloud IDs" that enables isolation and mobility of VMs for native multi-tenancy cloud environments.

• A framework for management, provisioning and integration designed to promote multi-vendor and system-to-system interoperability specifically for cloud environments. These include Brocade products supporting OpenStack software for storage, compute and software-defined networking capabilities enabled through OpenFlow.

Openness through OpenFlow and OpenStack may be another differentiator for Brocade and CloudPlex, some analysts say.

"It's designed to be much more open," says Zeus Kerravala of the Yankee Group. "They're trying to follow the line of standards. They're open much more than anyone in the industry."

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