Brocade, IBM to Bundle ‘SilkWorm’


Brocade Communications Systems and IBM
embarked on the next leg of their six-year partnership, agreeing to
bundle
new Brocade storage area network (SAN) switch modules with the IBM
eServer
BladeCenter to provide considerable server consolidation.


Code-named “Blazer” by Brocade, the Enterprise and Entry SAN Switch
module
is the latest addition to the San Jose, Calif., concern’s product line
of
intelligent switches, which runs from the low-end SilkWorm 3250 and
3280 and
extends to the SilkWorm 24000 for larger enterprises.


Switches help route data more efficiently across hardware devices such
as
SAN appliances and servers. An alternative to large,
monolithic
servers, blade servers, have their own processors, memory, operating
system,
applications and HBAs


Like SANs, they give enterprises the flexibility to scale up or scale
down,
simply by sliding blades in and out of a chassis, in order to ease the way
toward
consolidation. By their petite form factors, they also conserve space
and
power.


Combining BladeCenter with intelligent switches gives customers a
viable
solution for server and storage consolidation. The combo could give
IBM, with more than 25,000 SAN deployments, an advantage
against rivals such as HP, Sun Microsystems and Dell. Consolidation is often a
pressing need in financial services and telecommunications segments.


According to Brocade officials, the product and partnership were
sparked by
customer demand, as users flooded both companies with requests to add
an
intelligent switch to Big Blue’s blade server system.


The result, according to Brocade Product Marketing Director Raj Das, is
the
16-port fabric switch, designed to integrate Brocade’s SAN features
into
BladeCenter.


“The server blades go into the front of the 14U BladeCenter chassis,
and the
switch goes in the rear side of the chassis, so effectively you can
have 14
servers with no single point of failure and dual switches all inside
14U,”
Das said. The switch draws all power and cooling from the BladeCenter
chassis, reducing the number of cables.


The product comes in an entry-level module for small- and medium-sized
businesses who have modest connectivity and consolidation needs, while
the
enterprise-grade module handles heavy workloads of storage and servers.


Noting that the entry-level and enterprise-grade switch are the same
module,
DAS said the low-end switch allows users to take one BladeCenter
chassis,
load it up with 14 servers, plug in two switch modules and hook them up
to a
storage frame. Customers can upgrade through a software license key as
their
business grows, ostensibly making the module enterprise-class.


Das told internetnews.com the SilkWorm
fabric line and the new switch module are unique because of an adherence to a single code base across every product in the
line,
alleviating the burden of ripping and replacing switches in upgrade
situations.


That scenario is designed to save both time and the cost of buying new hardware.


Brocade Enterprise and Entry SAN Switch modules for the BladeCenter
will be
available from IBM in June.

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