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Brocade unveils application delivery controllers

Platform ups Brocade’s competition with F5, Cisco and Radware

By , Network World
May 14, 2009 12:04 AM ET
Ann Bednarz

Network World - Included among a handful of products Brocade unveiled this week is a new line of application delivery controllers that could better position Brocade to compete with vendors such as F5 Networks, Cisco and Radware (through its purchase of Nortel’s ADC gear).

Aimed at enterprise and service-provider customers, the Brocade ServerIron ADX Series offers load balancing, hardware-based SSL acceleration and Layer 4-7 packet inspection. The platform supports 70Gbps application throughput and 16 million Layer 4 transactions per second in a 320Gbps switch fabric, according to Brocade.

The series is available in three fixed-configuration and chassis-based models with interchangeable modules: The ServerIron ADX 1000 is a 1U fixed form factor, the ADX 4000 is a 4U chassis, and the ADX 8000 is an 8U chassis.

Each model supports Brocade’s Content Switching (CSW) framework, which lets users create policies and configurations to perform application switching and content transformation on a range of enterprise applications, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP applications.

The new product line puts Brocade’s products back into head-to-head competition with products from F5 and Cisco, according to William Terrill, a principal analyst at research firm Current Analysis.

The number of vendors with true enterprise-class, Layer 4-7 application optimization appliances is shrinking, “which gives Brocade an opportunity to acquire market share in this area and gain additional visibility for its other switching products,” Terrill wrote in a research brief.

Terrill also noted that the modular design of the ADX 4000 and ADX 8000 lets enterprises purchase a base set of functionality, and then later add modules to the same chassis.

Looking ahead, Terrill said Brocade needs to create “a clear marketing message to ensure that Foundry customers are well aware of the continuing existence of the Ethernet switching products under the Brocade name.” Brocade also should capitalize on its recent OEM deal with IBM, and try to get IBM to include the ServerIron ADX products in the agreement, Terrill wrote.

“Brocade’s OEM partnership with IBM should greatly increase awareness of Brocade as a viable competitor in the enterprise networking space. In addition with this new set of application optimization products, [the partnership] can offer additional penetration of IBM accounts that might be considering the OEMed networking products.”

Priced starting at $22,000, the ServerIron ADX Series is scheduled to be available in the third quarter.

As reported by my colleague Jim Duffy, Brocade also this week debuted its first 10G Ethernet top-of-rack switch (the TurboIron 24X ) along with a stackable switch for campus networks (the FastIron CX).

Read more about infrastructure management in Network World's Infrastructure Management section.

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