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Brocade turns to 2Gbps fibre channel switches

Will Garside
A new secure operating system is at the heart of storage area networking specialist Brocade's move to 2Gbps fibre channel switches.

The improvements made to the operating system will provide new functionality across all the company's switches, said Paul Trowbridge, Brocade's director of marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The 2Gbps switch is not being positioned as an upgrade for IT managers, Trowbridge explained. "We don't expect many customers to simply swap out existing 1Gbps switches," he said. "Instead, we expect many to move 1Gbps switches to the network edge and then install 2Gbps switches in the core."

Brocade is using the switch to focus on management. "Upgrading a SAN installation is not a decision that IT managers make based just on headline performance. Management is a major consideration," said Trowbridge.

Management is a significant area, agreed Tony Lock, a senior analyst at Bloor Research. "Brocade has realised that a lot of the value lies within management tools and has wrapped its technology announcements around a good software toolset, especially within the security side," he said.

Brocade's Intelligent Fabric Services Architecture update includes performance analysis, single-screen management console, and security improvements to prevent data spoofing.

The software tools and operating system upgrade applies across Brocade-branded 1Gbps and 2Gbps fibre channel switches and products manufactured for partners. However, the company will charge an unspecified upgrade fee per switch, likely to equate to several thousand dollars on each unit, with discounts for multiple switches.

Brocade has signed OEM agreements with 21 partners, including IBM, Compaq and Hewlett-Packard, for its 16-port Silkworm 3800 model and for blades for its Silkworm 12000 Core Fabric Switch.

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