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Brocade adds more Ethernet to storage

Fibre Channel endures the bizzare love triangle

Brocade's announced another chunk of its IP strategy, this time with an eye to drawing network-attached storage (NAS) devices into its warm embrace.

The idea, A/NZ senior director Gary Denman told Vulture South, is to give IP-attached storage the kind of SLA support and manageability that Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN) druids demand – along with an integrated management panel.

Getting its IP portfolio moving is kind of a big thing for Brocade: the mature Fibre Channel market doesn't offer the kinds of double-digit growth prospects investors like. A quick dispatch for a significant chunk of its business is not an option, so coexistence is vital.

In the latest announcement, there's a purpose-built data centre/disaster recovery portfolio; management via Fabric Vision on the Brocade VDX 6740 switch; IP support on its 7840 replication switch; and unified IP and Fibre Channel storage management under Brocade Fabric Vision.

ANZ systems engineering manager Phil Coates told The Register that with the growing deployment of NAS to mission-critical workloads, systems managers are “seeing the need for things like SLAs – they want to manage the growth the storage is creating, mitigate risk, and get the SLAs that attach to FibreChannel”.

NAS boxen, Coates said, have gone far beyond their original deployment to provide file storage and enterprise network users' home directories: “now we're seeing them handle tier one workloads”.

The pitch for the switch, then, is to give the growing NAS storage its own network, separate from the general enterprise Ethernet, with the company's fabric supporting easy horizontal expansion.

The mission-critical IP NAS is also behind the replication pitch. Getting that data to the backup / disaster recovery site, the company argues, also needs a high performance, reliable link.

Brocade claims its IP support on the 7840 replication switch delivers high performance, with protocol optimisation, 256-bit IPsec, and WAN connection monitoring.

Coates again: “It provides up to 50 times throughput for replication than I can get from native IP NAS devices – this reduces things like the replication window.”

As much as 0.1 per cent packet loss can start to impact the WAN link, Coates said, so the 7840 is designed to deal with that while maintaining the replication throughput.

EMC is first to cuddle up, announcing that the new suite will be added to its Connetrix IP storage networking product line. ®

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