Brocade debuts file virtualization box

Posted on March 31, 2008

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By Kevin Komiega

—Brocade has announced a new twist on its file virtualization technology in the form of the Brocade File Management Engine (FME), a 2U in-band network appliance that automates the movement and management of file data in Windows environments.

The FME embeds policy-based automation and centralized control of file movement in the network, allowing for non-disruptive migration and placement of data without downtime.

The features and functions of the FME appliance are similar to those offered by the company's StorageX file virtualization software, but there are a few differences between the two aside from the fact the FME is being packaged as an appliance.

The FME enables non-disruptive file movement, enabling administrators to migrate open or locked files even while users are accessing or writing to those files. The company claims that the combination of intelligent file movement with continued uptime and access enables organizations to remain productive during file data migrations.

The FME also uses pre-defined policies to automate data classification and placement within tiered storage infrastructures.

According to Scott Shimomura, product marketing manager for Brocade's Files Division, the FME enables users to build an infrastructure dedicated to file management and movement. "The FME is a virtualization appliance designed to build a transparent file mobility infrastructure," he says. "It provides a policy engine for the automation of all processes, and moves and manages files transparent to the network and traditional file storage devices."

Implementation of the FME appliance requires no changes to client access, networks, or storage. Moreover, there are no desktop, server, or storage agents to deploy or manage.

Shimomura adds that implementation of the FME is not an all-or-nothing proposition. "Bringing the FME into an environment simply means changing DFS links," he explains. "We can gradually bring customer environments under the FME's management. We don't have to take over everything immediately, and it's just as easy to take out as it is to bring in."

Brocade has optimized the initial release of the FME appliance for Windows file serving environments through compatibility with Active Directory, Server Message Block (SMB)/Common Internet File System (CIFS), and Distributed File System (DFS). Shimomura says support for the NFS protocol will be added within the next year.

The FME is deployed in a two-node cluster for high-availability and performance purposes, with a per-node price of $50,000.


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