Brocade offers new fabric monitoring service

By Kevin Komiega

-- Brocade is revamping an acquired network monitoring technology to offer customers a more comprehensive remote monitoring, alerting and reporting service for data center fabrics.

The newly announced Brocade Network Monitoring Service (NMS) provides real-time information about the health and status of fabrics to help boost network efficiency, availability, and uptime. NMS also generates reports with information and rules-based business intelligence for improved planning, application availability and resource utilization.

NMS collects and analyzes a variety of performance, utilization, and throughput data. The service sends alerts administrators of networking issues, bottlenecks, or potential system outages in an effort to avoid outages.

Brocade's NMS is based on a service originally offered by Computer Network Technology (CNT), which was acquired by McData in 2005. Brocade subsequently bought McData in 2006 and, according to Mike Schmitt, director of network monitoring solutions for Brocade Global Services, the company is now expanding the service.

"When we bought McData they had an existing monitoring business [via CNT] for extension devices that was entrenched with Fortune 100 customers. However, it was focused just on SAN extension devices," says Schmitt. "Our customers want this type of monitoring services, but they want them on a data center fabric level. They want an end-to-end view."

The current NMS is essentially a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering that uses basic SNMP trap monitoring to monitor fabrics. Schmitt says Brocade is in the process of fleshing out NMS to achieve the ultimate goal of sustaining application uptime.

New features of NMS include expanded monitoring and reporting from extension devices into the data center across all Brocade products and some third-party products, policy-based monitoring, event correlation, "yellow light" alerts, and fault determination for faster problem resolution.

Brocade has released a roadmap for the NMS that shows several upgrades planned for 2009. The service will be expanded next year to include monitoring for third-party devices, and integration with Brocade's Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) and SAN Health management tools. The result should be end-to-end data center monitoring and reporting using flow-based management by the end of next year.

"This is about more than monitoring speeds and feeds. Being able to provide a yellow alert in advance of a potential problem is much more important than letting them know that a problem has already occurred," says Schmitt.

NMS is targeted at the large enterprises, and is packaged in Basic, Premium and Premium-Plus tiers of service, each with its own set of monitoring and reporting options.

Pricing has not been disclosed, but NMS is sold on an annual, per-device basis. Schmitt says that an example would be $10,000 per year to monitor a Brocade DCX Backbone switch.

Related articles:
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Brocade to buy McData
McData ‘Super Sizes' with CNT acquisition

This article was originally published on December 03, 2008