Virtualization Plans

By Steve Wexler

NEW YORK -- Brocade used its annual Technology Day event to unveil a new network architecture and strategy intended to help customers simplify the complexity of virtualizing their applications. In addition to Brocade One, the company announced new solutions and technologies to optimize data center networks to support virtual servers, applications and data, as well as previewed upcoming changes to its partner program.

The networking company's vision is based on the premise that IT infrastructures will eventually evolve to a highly virtualized, services-on-demand state enabled through the cloud. Unlike its competitors, including Cisco, Dell, HP and Juniper, which offer proprietary or partial solutions, Brocade – whose key partners include Dell and HP – says its vision is built on a deep understanding of data center networking intricacies and the rejection of rip-and-replace deployment scenarios with vertically integrated stacks sourced from a single vendor.

Offering a variation on the former Sun Microsystems motto "the network is the computer", Brocade CMO John McHugh says the entire network is your data center. Speaking to hundreds of financial and industry analysts, media and thousands of others via a live Webcast, he said "Data center is not the big issue, not the big opportunity. We're moving to a world where the app can be anywhere in the cloud, this world where your entire network is your data center."

Subscribe to Channel Insider. Click here for our ultra-quick email newsletter registration form.

McHugh later told Channel Insider that his competitors are "trivializing" what's happening in the data center. "Brocade is perfectly positioned where the entire data center is becoming your network. It is a perfect combination of genetics to lead the industry for the next 5 to 10 years as the virtualization of the cloud plays out."

In addition to its data-center vision, Brocade also announced converged fabric-based innovations designed to radically simplify network architectures and enable customers to build large, highly intelligent, converged fabrics based on industry-standard Data Center Bridging (DCB) technology. Due out later this year, Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS) will overcome the limitations of conventional Ethernet networking by applying non-stop operations, any-to-any connectivity and the intelligence of fabric switching, says the company. The initial version will support 1000 10GbE ports and 10,000 virtual machines (VMs).

The vendor-agnostic Virtual Access Layer (VAL) is a logical layer between Brocade converged fabric and server virtualization hypervisors that will help ensure a consistent interface and set of services for virtual machines (VMs) connected to the network and will support all major hypervisors by utilizing industry-standard technologies, including the emerging Virtual Ethernet Port Aggregator (VEPA) and Virtual Ethernet Bridging (VEB) standards.

With the Open Virtual Compute Blocks, Brocade is working with systems and IT infrastructure vendors to build tested and verified data center blueprints for highly scalable and cost-effective deployment of VMs on converged fabrics.  Network Advisor is a best-in-class element management toolset that will help provide industry-standard and customized support for industry-leading network management, storage management, virtualization management and data center orchestration tools.

Brocade also introduced the building blocks for this infrastructure with a new class of converged fabric solutions that provide full interoperability with the Brocade 8000 Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) Switch and blade (for the Brocade DCX Backbone), the Brocade NetIron MLX Series and Brocade Converged Network Adapters (CNAs). These solutions are expected to be available in Q1 of the Brocade 2011 fiscal year.

McHugh says that it's a great time to be a part of the company's channel. "Brocade is great at partnerships. If any company has lived through partners the past decade, it's Brocade." McHugh says the company wants to focus on a way that feeds their partners and not give them "more work than they ever signed up for."

There are a number of changes coming to the channel program, confirms Barbara Spicek, VP Global Channel Sales. She says Brocade is currently focused on three partner segments: ABCs, Anything But Cisco; large global and national Sis; and 'converged partners', those selling either data center/storage or networking/IP solutions that want to expand into the other specialty. She says the greatest interest is coming from storage partners who want to get into networking.

Very shortly the company will launch the first of several new certifications. Spicek says convergence will be the first up, followed later this year with one for VCS.


This article was originally published on 2010-06-10