Dell to Resell Brocade 10GbE CNAs, 8Gbps HBAs

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Dell has once again expanded its relationship with Brocade to provide unified network plumbing and management technologies for virtualized data centers.

Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) this week announced that its 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) dual-port Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) and 8Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) are now available from Dell and qualified for use with Dell’s servers.

The first new addition to the Dell portfolio, Brocade’s 815 (single port) and 825 (dual port) 8Gbps FC-to-PCIe HBAs, provide server-to-storage connectivity as well as Brocade Adaptive Networking services, such as Quality of Service (QoS) from server virtual machines (VM) to storage array ports and traffic management.

The 815/825 FC HBAs feature a FC-to-PCIe 2.0a Gen2 (x8) bus interface with intelligent lane negotiation and I/O transfer rates with up to 500,000 I/Os Per Second (IOPS) per port at 8Gbps.

The HBAs also support the Fibre Channel-Security Protocol (FC-SP) for device authentication and N_Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) for 255 virtual ports.

The second addition to Dell’s networking lineup, Brocade’s 1020 CNAs, integrate 10GbE network interface card (NIC) functionality with FC technology, enabling the transport of TCP/IP and storage (iSCSI/FCoE) traffic over a single 10GbE connection through the Data Center Bridging (DCB) and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocols.

In addition, the Brocade 1020 CNAs deliver line-rate 10Gbps throughput and up to 1,000,000 IOPS on a dual-port card.

Dell and Brocade expanded their relationship late last year, when Dell agreed to sell branded versions of Brocade’s Fibre Channel HBAs, CNAs, FCoE and Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) switching products as part of a new focus on data center virtualization and unified networking.

Dell sells Ethernet modular switching products based on Brocade’s NetIron MLX Series Routers and BigIron RX Series Switches to provide 10GbE and 1GbE connectivity. The Brocade ServerIron ADX Series Switches are also part of Dell’s portfolio for Layer 4 through 7 switching.

On the Fibre Channel side, Dell rebrands Brocade’s Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM) software, the Brocade 8000 FCoE Switch and DCX Backbone high-end switches, as well as Brocade’s HBAs. Prior to the expanded relationship, Dell was already reselling Brocade’s Fibre Channel blade switches for the Dell M1000e and PowerEdge Series blade servers and a line of Brocade fixed-configuration Fibre Channel switches as part of its storage networking portfolio.

As part of this week’s announcement, Dell is now supporting full factory installation of Brocade’s HBAs and CNAs during the Dell server build process.

“Dell is now offering the full complement of our adapter products and, as of October 4, support full factory install rather than a piecemeal configuration of components,” said Herman Chao, Brocade’s senior director of product management for server connectivity.

While Brocade and Dell are tightening ties, Brocade is by no means choosing sides. The company has inked several CNA deals over the past year. Brocade’s 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) CNAs are available from EMC (NYSE: EMC), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM (NYSE: IBM) and NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP).

In related news, Brocade recently pledged its support for the next generation of Fibre Channel industry standard, FC-PI-5, which will offer 16Gbps performance.

Doug Ingraham, vice president of data centre products at Brocade, said, “Brocade serves as the Chair of the INCITS TC T11 committee and is committed to providing standards-based technologies. With the introduction of the new 16Gbps Fibre Channel standard, we are effectively future-proofing the data centre to enable hyper-scale virtualization for emerging workloads and private storage clouds, while protecting billions of dollars in existing infrastructure investments.”

Brocade expects to offer the industry’s first end-to-end 16Gbps Fibre Channel product portfolio in the first half of 2011.

The 16Gbps standard is expected to help customers address ongoing requirements for consolidating existing network infrastructure and accelerating data backup, replication and migration.

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Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega
Kevin Komiega is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor.

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