Brocade Introduces ‘Utility’ Switches


In a sign of how vendors in the storage arena are aligning their
products to
fit utility computing schemas, Brocade Communications Systems unveiled two new switches with flexible power
and pricing structures Wednesday.


The storage switch maker designed the SilkWorm 3250 and 3850, code-named “Dazzler,” for
small-and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), but with a distinct twist,
according to Tom Buiocchi, vice president of customer marketing at
Brocade.


These switches are capable of scaling up or down in accordance with the
needs of users, the executive said, and extend enterprise-level
features to
the entry-level for the first time at Brocade. Pricing is contingent on
how
much functionality is used with regard to the switches.


The new hardware is a departure for a company that already sells
entry-level, midrange and enterprise-class switches but it shouldn’t
come as
a surprise, Buiocchi told internetnews.com. After all, major
systems
vendors are tweaking their portfolios to become more utility
computing-friendly driven by customer demand for greater flexibility
and
control over their IT infrastructure.


Utility or on-demand computing, in which systems are updated with
intelligent software automatically with little human intervention is
the
popular strategy of the du jour. Buiocchi said customers have
been
asking for solutions that correspond with such environments, which is
purely
what is driving San Jose, Calif.’s, Brocade.


The new switches are characterized by added intelligence in the fabric
that
facilitates data migration and replication, volume management,
provisioning,
along with improved fabric connectivity to accommodate on-demand
environments.


Brocade competes with Cisco Systems and McData
to provide next-generation intelligent switches, which
consist
of software to help route information more efficiently and adapt to
changes
in a network, as opposed to more traditional “dumb” switches that
require
additional software to carry out instructions.


Brocade enjoys roughly a 66 percent market share in the low- to
mid-range
switch sector and now has the advantage of offering switches with
flexible
functionality and price points.


Buiocchi said customers are asking Brocade to drive cost and complexity
down
in storage area networks (SANs), which consist of
multiple,
disparate devices. They’re also asking for easier set-up capabilities,
typically because IT staffs are limited in scope in the SMB space.


“We’re really trying to drive the living daylights out of cost,”
Buiocchi
said. “This is pay-as-you-go for the customer — not per port but per
functionality.”


Because Brocade allows its products to be sold through original
equipment
manufacturers such as HP and EMC, the company doesn’t list price
points.
However, Buiocchi said the new SilkWorms are the company’s least
expensive
switches and will be priced according to “license keys” that allow
customers
to pay according to the power and functionality they use.


Measuring 1 unit high, the 3250 and 3280 devices are available in 8 or
16-port configurations, respectively, and house version 4.2 of the
Brocade
device operating system. In fact, Brocade uses the same operating code
from
its entry-level to high-end enterprises.

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