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IBM ties blades to Fibre Channel

May 20, 20042 mins
Data CenterIBM

* IBM unveils switches that connect blade servers to Fibre Channel SANs

IBM last week followed HP with the introduction of Fibre Channel storage-area network blades for its eServer BladeCenter servers.

The company, however, trumped HP by introducing two versions of Fibre Channel switches – one for small and midsize businesses and one for enterprise firms. HP’s Fibre Channel mezzanine card functions only as a host bus adapter in a server that can connect to external Fibre Channel drives.

IBM announced the two 2G bit/sec Fibre Channel switches, codenamed Blazer, which it OEMs from Brocade. The first switch, the Entry SAN Switch Module, can connect to two Fibre Channel domains. The Enterprise SAN Switch Module connects to much larger fabrics; it can attach to as many as 239 switches (the maximum of Fibre Channel).

Both switches fit into the back of an IBM BladeCenter chassis. Two switches each occupy a slot for redundancy. Each blade also has 16 ports, 14 of which connect to the blade servers in the chassis and two that allow attachment to external Fibre Channel storage.

The Fibre Channel switch blades use Brocade’s fourth-generation ASIC, which supports hot code load and activation, inter-switch link trunking and advanced security. The switch blades are hot-swappable.

While HP was first to the market with Fibre Channel connectivity for its ProLiant BL blade servers, its offering is limited in functionality. The dual-port Mezzanine Card connects single ProLiant BL20p G2 server blades to external Fibre Channel storage. Its dual-port nature provides redundant connections to a SAN.

The Brocade Entry SAN Switch Module and Enterprise SAN Switch Module are expected to be available in June, with pricing starting at $15,000 and $20,000, respectively.