Brocade Brakes in NY For Networking Gig

Storage networking leader Brocade Communications Systems  is set to unveil a major refresh to its SilkWorm storage
area network (SAN) and Tapestry file services product lines at an analyst
event in New York Tuesday.

The company, which is in the midst of acquiring long-time rival McData Corp., is intent on building on its already large
market share versus Cisco Systems .

The rivals compete in an important, multi-billion-dollar market for hardware
and software that helps shuttle data between several storage arrays and
computers, as well as manages that data from a central location.

Bryan Young, director of product management for Brocade’s enterprise
business, said company officials will announce the
SilkWorm FC4-48, a new 4 gigabit-per-second, 48-port blade for the vendor’s
high-end SilkWorm 48000 Director.

SilkWorm FC4-48

The SilkWorm FC4-48.

Source: Brocade

The blade will boost the data director’s capacity from 256 ports to 384
ports within the same frame, Young explained, and will help customers
consolidate more data storage onto fewer machines without sacrificing

Arun Taneja, founding analyst of The Taneja Group, said the move to 4Gb,
while expected of all the networking vendors, is still important because the
speed bump won’t increase the price, giving customers more bang for their IT

“All of the 2 gig Fibre Channel products are going to 4 gig,” Taneja said.

“It’s a no-brainer for the vendor side, and it will be a no-brainer for the
user side to purchase them, because the vendors are planning on keeping the
price the same as the 2 gig, so I get twice the performance at the same

Moreover, the director is backwards-compatible, so if necessary, the device
can dial down the speed to 2Gb to prevent data buffer overflows.

In addition, Brocade will unleash the SilkWorm FC4-16IP, an 8-port iSCSI
 blade for the 48000 Director. This device bridges the
gap between Fibre Channel  and IP networks,
connecting low-cost IP devices to more expensive Fibre Channel SANs.

“On the IP side, this gives customers the ability to connect to a host in
the $1,000 to $2,000 price range, where a host bus adapter would be
prohibitively expensive to connect them to the SAN, this allows these
customers to connect in and use their existing Fibre Channel storage as a
storage network,” Young said.

New software, the Brocade Access Gateway Technology for Bladed Servers,
allows customers to use Brocade’s blade switches, which pop into a chassis
such as IBM’s BladeCenter to connect to large fabrics without increasing the
complexity of managing those fabrics.

While Brocade has a long tradition and good reputation for block-based SAN
infrastructure, the company recognizes that in order to hold the line versus
a giant like Cisco, the company has to branch out.

That led them to Tapestry file services, which address the management of
unstructured files such as Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.

“There’s kind of just been a hodge-podge of vendors addressing that,” said
Mike Schmitt, product marketing manager for Brocade’s file services

“Given the fact that that data is exploding at 2x [two times] a year, there
has been a concept that’s evolved, which is called the file area network

Schmitt said Brocade has upgraded its Tapestry StorageX 5.8 namespace
software with more namespace scalability; improved namespace policies;
replication reporting; and greater data movement speed.

Tapestry WAFS 3.0, which connects remote offices and centralized computer
networks, includes support for disaster recovery, while the new Tapestry
MyView 3.0 audits directories and files, and does time-based reporting with
history and policy administration.

Brocade is also boosting its professional services business to cover the
file business, supporting global namespace and FANs;
WAFS implementation; branch office; and data replication.

Taneja said that while the product enhancements are business as usual for
Brocade, the company faces the challenge of rationalizing the McData
assets and advance its own products at the same time.

“If Brocade can resolve and rationalize the product lines between McData and
themselves, they can occupy an extremely strong market share of the
bread-and-butter product line they’ve been used to for the last seven, eight years,” Taneja said.

Even so, Brocade seems to have time to cultivate its new talent and assets. It holds a sizeable lead in the storage network switch space, with $186.9
million in sales versus Cisco’s $86.5 million in the most recent quarter
(48.8 percent to 22.6 percent).

Brocade also hopes the product refresh and pending merger with McData
will wash out the bad taste of the stock option backdating scandal currently
embroiling former executives.

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