Brocade, McData Weave New Storage Fabric


Storage vendors are racing to update their product lines, and rolling out new announcements at this week's Storage Networking World conference in Orlando.

For example, competing storage fabric vendors took the wraps of new product plans, with Brocade unveiling a mid-range switch and McData promising a refresh of its Enterprise Operating System software.

Brocade is filling in its new switch product line with a 4 gigabit-per-second fibre channel switch, the SilkWorm 4100 series.

Available in 16-, 24- and 32-port options, the box is compatible with the company's switch family due to the common code base operating system, which works on devices as small as the entry-level SilkWorm 3250, to the large, enterprise-grade SilkWorm 24000.

Spencer Sells, director of product management at Brocade, said the device's attraction lies in its flexibility, as the 4100 boasts a 4Gb/s speed at a 2Gb/s price point. It is geared for core storage area network (SAN) and large edge SAN applications. Additional key features include redundant and hot-swappable power supplies and cooling fans; hot-swappable SFP media; and hot code loading and activation.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Nancy Hurley said in a statement that a 4Gb/s switch with the flexibility to configure all active ports across a range of performance levels provides administrators with infrastructure that can scale, an important function as critical data continues to snowball across the enterprise.

Sells told Brocade has also overhauled its Fabric Operating System (Fabric OS). Called OS 4.4, the system boasts better SAN performance, scalability and manageability.

New perks include faster data transfer rates over longer distances, new network management features, enhanced security, and FICON Control Unit Port (CUP) support for mainframe computing environments. Brocade Fabric OS also provides faster recovery in business continuance and disaster recovery applications.

This is important because as SANs expand, IT professionals will need to access data and tools that help them with performance monitoring, capacity planning, and troubleshooting. This is a central theme in the storage sector.

Systems vendors like IBM, HP and EMC rely on Brocade, McData and Cisco Systems for routers, switches and other infrastructure components for moving data quickly.

As for news from McData, the company said it is fine-tuning its storage network platform, according to Jonathan Buckley, vice president of software platforms for the Broomfield, Colo., company.

Buckley said McData will release version 7.0 of its Enterprise Operating System Software. It will feature the 10 gigabit-per-second XPM support, SANtegrity Security Suite, fabric diagnostics, as well as installation wizards for the Sphereon series of switches.

XPM is an embedded non-volatile memory technology, which scales to advanced silicon processes such as 90 nanometer from a few bits up to multiple megabits of secure storage. Buckley said McData is planning a 10 Gb/s blade for the outfit's installed base of 17,000 directors and that the company will create IP and virtualization blades in the future.

"There's debate on how that gets accomplished technically at the moment, but they will be coming out for the installed base," Buckley told

SANtegrity Security Suite, which runs on the Sphereon switches, has been refreshed entirely for version 7.0. It provides password protection and encryption. New fabric diagnostics help the switches predict whether a set of optics is trending towards failure.

Through an agreement with Network Appliance, Buckley said SANavigator 4.2 will be able manage NetApp filer products. The partner is also embedding it under the NetApp name and will be selling it worldwide in September.

By this time next year, Buckley promised that McData will have one storage network platform after integrating four major management applications from past acquisitions.


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