A Busy Week for Brocade

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Brocade has unveiled a number of initiatives at its Brocade Conference 2003 in Las Vegas this week, including a next-generation Fabric Operating Environment for Storage Area Networks (SANs), an intelligent infrastructure software partnership with EMC, and a SAN solution for Microsoft Exchange with Hitachi Data Systems.

Brocade announced OEM availability of the Brocade Fabric Operating Environment, which includes new features and capabilities for the Brocade Fabric Operating System (Fabric OS) and fabric management tools. With the software release, Brocade contends it now offers the first fabric-based SAN security to go along with enhanced SAN management tools and new high-availability and connectivity features.

Brocade partners Dell, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM, Network Appliance, StorageTek, and Sun Microsystems will offer the Brocade Fabric Operating Environment.

“SANs are becoming a critical IT infrastructure element for delivering improved security, manageability, and enhanced data availability,” says John McArthur, group vice president for Worldwide Storage Research at IDC. “Brocade’s announcement is in line with the importance that customers place on these capabilities for their mission-critical and business-critical applications. IDC expects continued market demand for these types of enhancements.”

Among the highlights of the new Fabric Operating Environment is the addition of Secure Fabric OS, now available for 2 Gigabit per second SilkWorm fabric switches. Brocade claims Secure Fabric OS combines the security features of IP networking with the unique security requirements of SANs, and is “the only security product that offers centralized management of SAN security policies for management and device access.”

A Brocade SAN fabric with Secure Fabric OS assures that only authorized users can take management actions on the fabric, and that only authorized servers, storage, or switches can be added to the fabric.

Management enhancements include SilkWorm fabric switches that can proactively discover Host Bus Adaptor (HBA) asset information without the use of agents, deliver “single-keystroke” firmware downloads to Emulex HBAs through the fabric, and extend Brocade fabric security to the HBA. This capability, based on the Fabric Device Management Interface (FDMI) standard, simplifies SAN fabric administration by reducing the number of management touch points within the SAN, according to Brocade.

The user interface to WEBTOOLS, Brocade’s web-based management tool, has been enhanced as well and now offers new features such as high availability management, congestion detection, and security metric reporting.

Page 2: Development Environment Also Receives Enhancements

SAN Fabrics Development Environment Receives Enhancements, Too

Brocade is also expanding the development environment for Brocade SAN fabrics. Brocade is expanding the Brocade Fabric Access API to include an API Scripting Developer’s Kit that will allow end user customers to customize SAN management scripts and create applications using the Brocade API and industry standard scripting languages such as PERL. This enables end users to integrate fabric management tasks into their existing operational scripts, bridging gaps in management automation offered by today’s tools, Brocade contends.

“The Brocade API scripting tools allow us to create our own SAN management applications and customize our SAN management solution to our environment,” asserts Michelle Butler, technical program manager for Storage Enabling Technologies at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA). “In addition, at NCSA, data security is a key issue. The advanced security features we get from Brocade are extremely important, especially the ability to lock down ports and implement security authentication levels.”

To improve application uptime and simplify change management, this software release also includes expanded Reliability/Availability/Serviceability (RAS) features such as enhanced diagnostics, health monitoring, and the ability to download and activate new switch firmware with no disruption to applications. Additionally, Secure Fabric OS enforces configuration integrity by preventing accidental device connection or configuration errors.

To extend connectivity options, the Fabric Operating Environment also includes support for FICON with the SilkWorm 12000 Core Fabric Switch. Support for FICON will enable Brocade end users to connect IBM mainframes to Brocade-based SAN environments. Brocade’s FICON implementation also supports new capabilities such as FICON cascading, mainframe and open systems intermix mode, and 2 Gbit/sec speeds.

“This is the most comprehensive software release in Brocade’s history,” proclaimed Brocade Chairman and CEO Greg Reyes during his keynote at Brocade Conference 2003. “We have boosted the intelligence of the Fabric Operating Environment to empower customers to protect their SAN from intruders, keep the system running when they are making upgrades, and enable proactive fabric management.”

Page 3: EMC to Develop Open Storage Software for Brocade SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform

EMC to Develop Open Storage Software for Brocade SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform

EMC is announcing at the Brocade Conference that it will develop intelligent infrastructure software for the new Brocade SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform, “enabling new levels of data delivery, management, scalability, and performance in heterogeneous storage environments,” the companies state.

Brocade says the SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform, announced last month, “is the industry’s first open, intelligent platform for fabric-based applications.” By adding a new SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform switch to an existing SAN utilizing Brocade technology, customers will be able to further extend storage and data management capabilities with the assurance of compatibility with thousands of existing SANs across the world utilizing Brocade technology, according to Brocade.

Brocade expects to make the SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform available to OEM partners in the second half of 2003.

EMC sells and supports the SilkWorm 3800 16-port, SilkWorm 3900 32-port, and SilkWorm 12000 Core Fabric switch under the EMC Connectrix brand.

Brocade and HDS Deliver ‘Out-of-the-Box’ SAN Solution for Microsoft Exchange Storage Consolidation

In another news development at the Brocade Conference, Brocade and Hitachi Data Systems are announcing a pre-tested, pre-configured networked storage solution designed to reduce email storage and management costs for businesses migrating their email infrastructure from Microsoft Exchange 5.5 to Microsoft Exchange 2000.

Based on the Hitachi Freedom Storage Thunder 9500 V Series storage system, Brocade SilkWorm fabric switches, and Emulex HBAs, the solution “greatly simplifies the purchase, installation, and management of SANs for Microsoft Exchange 2000 and Windows 2000 environments,” the companies claim. The solution will be available in the second quarter of 2003 and will be delivered worldwide through Hitachi Data Systems authorized resellers.

“With the exponential rise in data resulting from email, our customers are demanding solutions that simplify email migration and management,” states Charlie Westling, vice president of Market Development for Datalink, a Hitachi Data Systems reseller. “With this combined effort from Hitachi Data Systems and Brocade, we can more easily fulfill customer needs in a Microsoft Exchange environment and be confident that we’re providing a best-of-breed solution.”

The bundled SAN solution targets the challenge of multiple “email islands,” a common phenomenon that arises when businesses expand their corporate email infrastructure incrementally by adding Exchange servers with direct-attached storage. As these stove-piped Exchange environments grow, they generate increasing management costs, diminished storage and overall resource utilization, and lengthier backups and restores.

The bundle includes a Thunder 9532V storage deck with 645GB of raw storage capacity, two Brocade SilkWorm 3800 16-port Enterprise Fabric Switches, four Emulex Host Bus Adaptors, and Brocade and Hitachi Data Systems management tools. It will be available from Hitachi Data Systems and its local resellers who offer Microsoft software, installation, and migration services.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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