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.