Brocade Intros New Switch, Investment Protection

Storage switch maker Brocade Communications Systems followed up last month’s entry-level utility switches Monday by upgrading the fabric for major enterprise customers.

The company said its new SilkWorm 24000 Director for big companies is a significant improvement over the previous Silkworm 12000 model, which shuttles data between devices in a computer network.

Brocade also unveiled an investment protection program — a rarity in
storage networking — in order to help customers who desire to upgrade from the 12000 to the 24000, which has several new features.

Acccording to Spencer Sells, director of enterprise products at
Brocade, the
new SilkWorm 24000 will help Brocade deliver more choice in networking
capabilities and price performance points. The 24000 features 128
high performance and enterprise-class RAS, or reliability, availability

“[The 24000] excels in areas you expect a director to excel —
performance, availability,” Sells told “All
ports can operate at full duplex non-blocking data transfers 24 hours a
7 days week.”

The new director also handles the mainframe protcol FICON , which stands for Fiber Connection, or Fiber Connectivity. The fiber optic channel technology extends the capabilities of its previous fiber optic channel standard, Enterprise Systems Connection, or ESCON . FICON supports full duplex data transfers and enables greater data throughput
rates over longer distances than ESCON.

“Mainframe customers want to migrate their data from ESCON
FICON,” Sells said. “We’re still at the starting edge for that
phenomenon in
the data center. They also want to be able to sort their SCSI (small computer system interface) directors
and FICON directors from the same source. This allows them to do that.”

Brocade competes with Cisco Systems and McData
in the market for switches; but each vendor aims to offer
differentiators to separate itself from the pack in the eyes of finicky customers.

For example, a key aspect of Brocade’s availability to scale from
models, such as the new 3250 and 3280 models, and directors such as the
24000, is the company’s singular software code base, which handles
from 8 to 128 ports. This, believes Sells, is what helps Brocade stick
amid tough competition. The 24000 competes with Cisco’s 9509 and
6140 directors.

That allows customers to have insurance that they can plug the products
together to lower customers’ operating expenses by easing management.
also helps OEM partners, a major source of Brocade’s sales that include
HP and IBM, reduce time-to-market and support costs.

As for the upgrade program, customers can move from the 12000, which
hit the
market in 2001 and has an installed base of 3,500, to the 24000 with
plug-ins. Users can also upgrade from the 24000 to future generations
of the
high-end director.

This is important because customers need only swap the control
card between a chassis, avoiding costly, cumbersome rip-and-replace

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