By Kevin Komiega
When Brocade announced its post-McData-acquisition product road map earlier this year, the company made it clear that it would continue to offer McData’s directors alongside its own SilkWorm 48000 directors. However, the company indicated that once 8Gbps Fibre Channel technology hit the market, a new common director platform based on the SilkWorm 48000 would emerge as the “preferred” director-class product in the portfolio. That time is now.
Brocade is slowly transitioning its high-end products as planned. The company has upgraded the SilkWorm 48000 director with 8Gbps SAN switching capabilities. In addition, the 48000 is now fully interoperable and backward-compatible with all current McData platforms, meaning the 48000 can now natively connect to existing McData fabrics-an advancement designed to support legacy gear and assure McData users that they have a solid growth path in place as they build out their environments.
Native interoperability enables customers to connect Brocade’s 48000s directly to the re-branded McData products- the Brocade M6140 and Mi10K directors-as well as legacy McData switches.
Rick Villars, vice president of storage systems research at International Data Corp. (IDC), says native connectivity for the 48000 is especially important to the McData customer base because they want to know there is a future migration path and that they will be able to grow without making a huge technology transition.
“Enabling native connectivity to McData fabrics for the 48000 provides insurance for Brocade’s customers. They now know that going forward there will be a tested and certified product in the market as they build out their fabrics,” says Villars. “It’s an assurance that customers will not have to make a major, time- consuming product change.”
The addition of 8Gbps technology effectively doubles the bandwidth of existing SANs and may be of particular interest to users managing data centers with large virtual server environments, as well as mainframe environments that need additional SAN connectivity and companies with intensive backup requirements.
“We’re laying the foundation for mainframe customers, where 8Gbps connectivity will be available next year,” says Bill Dunmire, senior product marketing manager at Brocade. “And there is also a real value for 8GBps Fibre Channel in virtual environments in large data centers running a lot of virtual machines. “Doubling the bandwidth over 4Gbps Fibre Channel enables users to reduce the number of inter-switch links [ISLs] by 50%, and companies can increase virtual server connectivity by 25% without having to add infrastructure. That means they can add hundreds of virtual machines to their environments.” The 8Gbps connectivity and McData interoperability capabilities are available now to Brocade’s OEMs and channel partners as options to the SilkWorm 48000 director. Existing customers can also take advantage of the increased performance and interoperability features via upgrades.