Brocade adds VM visibility

By Kevin Komiega

The latest release of Brocade's Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) software includes enhanced support for VMware and a new function called Server Application Optimization (SAO), all of which are designed to give SAN administrators better visibility into virtual machine (VM) environments.

Brocade is billing the 10.3 release of DCFM as "optimized for server virtualization" based on the software's integration with VMware environments and its ability to peer into VMs and their properties and relationships from the server to its corresponding storage resources through Brocade's HBAs and switches.

In an effort to extend SAN network services to the virtual world, Brocade also released version 6.2 of its Fabric Operating System, which includes a new network function called Server Application Optimization (SAO).

SAO is compatible with the company's Fibre Channel HBAs and switches and brings application-aware Quality of Service (QoS) to the network. The SAO feature helps maintain service level agreements (SLAs), improves "performance-under-load" for applications running on VMs, and gives server administrators access to application-level performance monitoring statistics and diagnostics, according to Tony Hampel, Brocade's director of product management for SAN management.

Brocade is also working on a management plug-in for VMware's vCenter management console that will feed network data directly to vSphere for troubleshooting purposes. The plug-in will also be able to kick off the vMotion process in the event of a critical alert.

Herman Chao, Brocade's senior director of server connectivity, says VM sprawl is out of control and, more often than not, large-scale virtual server deployments hit roadblocks because of network complexity.

"Users get to a point where they actually lose control and stop because they've lost visibility into their VM environment," says Chao. "It's necessary to view the network at the VM level, as opposed to the port level, and to extend existing fabric services from the physical infrastructures out into the virtual environment."

Those fabric services include isolation and authentication, QoS and security, according to Chao.

Brocade's DCFM 10.3 shipped last month. The management plug-in for VMware is still in the early development phase and is expected to be available by the middle of next year.

The SAO license is available now on Brocade's Fibre Channel switches when used in conjunction with the company's HBAs.

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This article was originally published on October 01, 2009