Targeting Cisco and Juniper, Brocade unveils unified data center strategy

Brocade One will face stiff competition from Cisco Unified Computing, Juniper Stratus

Brocade this week unveiled its converged data center architecture, and a raft of new products to support it.

Brocade One is intended to simplify data center operations and lower costs by converging all operations onto the network. "The entire network is your data center," says Brocade Chief Marketing Officer John McHugh.

Brocade One emphasizes simplicity, information protection, non-stop networking and optimized applications. It will face stiff competition from Juniper's upcoming Project Stratus data center fabric and Cisco's Unified Computing strategies.

10G shakes data center to the core 

Brocade One seeks to transform physical data center assets and resources into virtual services allocated via software commands rather than physical relocation or deployment of systems. Its components include a Virtual Access Layer (VAL), which provides per virtual machine QoS on Brocade and third-party server adapters; and Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS), which provides lossless, low latency, deterministic multi-path Ethernet networking.

VAL will eventually support IEEE Edge Virtual Bridging standards, including Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregation, or VEPA, in two years, says Brocade CTO Dave Stevens.

A first customer ship is expected later this year, a VCS switch cluster will support 1,000 10G Ethernet ports and 10,000 VMs, Stevens says. A VCS clusters can be managed as a single logical switch, he says.

All 10G ports in a VCS cluster will support the IEEE's Data Center Bridging standards for lossless Ethernet switching, and multihop Fibre Channel over Ethernet capabilities, Stevens says. There will be no Spanning Tree support, he says, and all links will be auto-healing and non-disruptive.

The VCS control plane will be distributed, topologies will be self-forming, and VM port profiles will migrate wherever the VM goes in or between data centers, Stevens says. It will also support a feature called dynamic service insertion, whereby elements and services can be reconfigured via software commands by "steering" traffic to an external service enabling device via graphical user interface.

The embodiment of VCS is currently in three new Brocade switches that incorporate three new ASICs and a new operating system called Brocade Network OS. BNOS converges Fibre Channel and IP services onto a Linux core, similar to the LAN/SAN convergence Cisco unveiled in the NX-OS operating system for its Nexus data center switches.

The three new switches address the access and aggregation layers in a data center switching architecture. They include a 2RU 60x10G device; a 1RU 48x1G system; and a 24x10G 1RU platform. All ports run at line-rate 10G, Stevens says.

The 60-port switch and the 24-port switch will ship in the fourth quarter. The 48-port platform will ship in the first quarter of 2011. Also in 2011, Brocade will ship a chassis-based core VCS switch that incorporates the new ASICs and BNOS operating system. Stevens did not provide configuration or port density details on that product.

Brocade will also ship a new element management system for the Brocade One environment in the third quarter. This system will provide integrated Ethernet, Fibre Channel and Data Center Bridging management with northbound interfaces to IBM, HP, Dell, EMC, Microsoft and VMware server, storage and hypervisor management.

The element manager will provide network wide visibility into the VCS cluster, Stevens says.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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