Brocade's new Ethernet switches reduce network complexity, cost

The VDX family of switches allow standard server traffic to share networks with data storage traffic

Brocade Communication Systems today announced the release of a new line of Ethernet-based switches that will allow standard server traffic to share networks with data storage traffic, offering administrators a method of reducing network complexity and cost.

Brocade's new VDX family of switches comes with an ASIC loaded with Brocade's Virtual Cluster Switching firmware, which allows up to 10 switches to be clustered together and managed under a single interface.

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"Today's applications involve more clusters, Web 2.0 technology, interserver communication as peers. That's really creating need for a new network where older technologies like Spanning Tree don't fit," said Doug Ingraham, Brocade's vice president of data center products. "This allows you to scale in a virtualized [server] environment without adding network complexity."

Brocade's first switch in its new family is the VDX 6720, which comes in two models: a 1U, 24-port unit and a 2U, 60-port chassis. The switches can be configured with 10Gbps Ethernet connectivity or Gigabit Ethernet ports.

A cluster of 10 VDX switches can scale up to 600 10Gbps Ethernet ports and can support 8,000 virtual machines, Ingraham said. In a VDX clustered-switch architecture, virtual machines can be moved between physical servers without disrupting operations, he said. Virtual machine (VM) migration works by copying the VM to a new physical server and automatically redirecting network traffic.

The VDX switches have been precertified to work with any hypervisor on the market, including VMware, Citrix XenServer, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

The switches represent Brocade's first end-to-end Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet (FCoE) fabric, allowing block level data to be backed up over a LAN to a SAN. Administrators can also use the iSCSI protocol for backing up Wintel server farms.

Brocade also is offering a service to help users design and implement a network architecture for their virtual server environment with the VDX switches.

The VDX 6720 will begin shipping in December. A base model starts at $10,700, but users can upgrade by purchasing additional port licenses, 10 ports at a time.

"So you can buy a 60-port switch and use 30, 40, 50, or 60 ports. So you only pay for what you utilize," Ingraham said.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Brocade's new Ethernet switches reduce network complexity, cost" was originally published by Computerworld .

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