Brocade debuts FCoE switches, CNAs

By Kevin Komiega

Brocade fired the latest shot in the battle for the converged networking market last month with the announcement of a Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) switch and an accompanying set of converged network adapters (CNAs).

The Brocade 8000 Switch is a multi-protocol, Layer 2, top-of-rack FCoE switch with 24 10GbE CEE ports and eight 8Gbps Fibre Channel ports, which according to Brocade's chief technology officer, Dave Stevens, enables the consolidation of I/O storage and data networking ports at the server edge.

In addition to the switch, Brocade announced the 1010 single-port and 1020 dual-port CNAs. Stevens says the CNAs operate at "very close to line rates," with throughput speeds of up to 500,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) per port.

The CNAs are based on Brocade-developed ASIC technology that provides traditional Ethernet capabilities based on the TCP/IP protocol suite, converged Ethernet and storage transport functionality over a single link, and 10Gbps FCoE connectivity from servers to SAN fabrics and LANs.

The Brocade 8000 switch connects to servers equipped with Brocade 1010 and 1020 CNAs to create an FCoE connection from servers to storage. The switch is based on the Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) with extensions covering FCoE and CEE, which means it can take advantage of some of the more advanced fabric services available on other products in the Brocade portfolio, including Brocade Fabric Watch, Inter-Switch Link (ISL) Trunking, and performance monitoring.

The switch and CNAs are managed via the Brocade Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) management platform.

"It has been a long time coming in trying to get the FCoE products out, with a lot of time spent internally in development, but we think we've raised the bar," says Stevens. "We're the only vendor shipping an 8Gbps top-of-rack FCoE switch and we've integrated the switch and the CNAs with our management application."

Stevens says the new switch and CNAs are in the process of being qualified by "all of the major OEMs." However, he does not expect users to adopt CEE and FCoE en masse until late next year.

"We're deploying CEE and FCoE at a time that is fairly consistent with what customers want. There are a lot of FCoE-capable products that are being deployed as 10GbE top-of-rack switches without Fibre Channel connectivity. A lot of companies have [delayed] FCoE deployments due to budget concerns," says Stevens. "My opinion is that it won't be until late 2010 before we see any real volume."

On the FCoE switch front, Brocade competes primarily with Cisco. On the CNA front, the company competes primarily with Emulex and QLogic.

This article was originally published on May 01, 2009