Brocade tries to One up Cisco in virtual data centers

June 10, 2010 -- Brocade answered many lingering questions in the past 24 hours about the integration of its Foundry platforms, its plans for converged network fabrics, its take on virtual machine (VM) mobility, and whether it had an answer for the Cisco-led Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition's Vblock strategy.

The company has introduced Brocade One, an architecture that brings together its operating system and management tools. The bottom line: put more smarts in the network to manage VMs in virtualized data centers.

"Brocade One represents one, unified company with one OS and one set of management tools under one architecture," said Bob Braham, vice president of product marketing at Brocade.

As part of Brocade One, the company introduced Brocade Virtual Cluster Switching, a software technology that collapses the access and aggregation layers of the network to create a masterless and distributed control plane.

Brocade VCS continuously synchronizes state, status and configuration information between nodes to enable converged fabrics to be self-forming, auto-healing and self-configuring – think VM metadata, network and storage policies.

Braham says VCS can be used to create true converged data center fabrics that are inherently multi-pathing and resilient, effectively eliminating the need for Spanning Tree Protocol (STP).

Also new is the Brocade Virtual Access Layer, a logical layer between Brocade converged fabric and server virtualization hypervisors. The Virtual Access Layer makes sure a consistent interface and set of services for VMs connected to the network. Brocade VAL will support all major hypervisors through industry-standard technologies, including the Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA) and Virtual Ethernet Bridging (VEB) standards.

There was a lot of high-level speak about Brocade One, but there was one clear message – they plan to take on the Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition's Vblock initiative directly. Brocade and its partners are prepping what the company calls Brocade Open Virtual Compute Blocks – tested and verified data center blueprints for VM deployments on converged fabrics.

The switching component of the Compute Blocks will be based on the Brocade 8000 Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) Switch and blade (for the Brocade DCX Backbone), the Brocade NetIron MLX Series and Brocade Converged Network Adapters (CNAs).

Braham says the Brocade-based stacks will be available by year's end.

Brocade's been busy. Here's a taste of InfoStor's recent related news coverage:

Brocade, EMC lay groundwork for private clouds
Brocade increases density, throughput of DCX Backbone
Brocade CNAs qualified by EMC, HDS, IBM, NetApp
EMC expands converged networking deals with Brocade, Cisco
Dell taps Brocade for FCoE, CEE gear
Weighing the pros and cons of unified computing

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posted by: Kevin Komiega

Kevin Komiega, Senior Editor
by Kevin Komiega
Senior Editor

Kevin Komiega has been the Senior Editor of InfoStor since 2005. He was previously a senior news writer with SearchStorage.com and held a position as a public relations account executive with Porter Novelli, Boston. Kevin also spent four years running tape backup operations at the University of Rhode Island's Academic Computer Center. He can be contacted at kkomiega@quinstreet.com.

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