Brocade bought Foundry networks in late 2008; at the time, it was expected that the absorption of Foundry would mean that Brocade would offer more switches running IP and Ethernet, in addition to the existing product line of Fibre Channel switches. This has certainly been the case, and has given Brocade more leverage in the "traditional" networking areas of Ethernet and IP. On September 18 this year, an announcement was made by Brocade about new advances that will move their technology further into the Software Defined Networking space. A new switch also featured in the announcement.
Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS)
Brocade state that they now have Storage Aware Networking as one feature of the new VCS fabric. The new VCS virtual fabric is also touted as being hypervisor agnostic. However, the significant new feature is the ability to support 100GbE in the VCS fabric.
Another feature is VCS Auto QOS. This feature allows storage traffic to be given priority over other traffic. The capability that VCS has to support 100GbE should make it possible to support high capacity mixed environments comprising storage and other traffic on the network. Brocade has released a "blueprint" for the implementation. This contains various information on how to best utilise Brocade's switches and VCS, as well as providing guidelines on segregation of layer 2 traffic by traffic types.
A new switch
One of the selling points of VDX 6740 switch is that it has ASIC support for OpenFlow 1.3. There are several other features such as having 32 ports that can run any of Fiber Channel, Ethernet or FCoE. The ports can run at 10GbE or at 40GbE.
A new router
Brocade is looking to strengthen its hand in the software defined networking space by releasing the new Vyatta 5600 router (PDF). The stated speed is 10GBps per x86 core. The 5600 router runs the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) component. The router also supports Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing. It will not be available till early 2014.
The announcements by Brocade are twofold. The switches aim to further consolidate Brocade's existing market in Ethernet switches, whilst the Vyatta 5600 router aims to further entrench Brocade in the NFV space. Both developments suggest Brocade is looking ahead to virtualization and cloud futures.
Scott Reeves has worked for Hewlett Packard on HP-UX servers and SANs, and has worked in similar areas in the past at IBM. Currently he works as an independent IT consultant, specializing in Wi-Fi networks and SANs.