Brocade Takes On Cisco, Juniper in Converged Data Center Space

Brocade announces its converged data center strategy, dubbed Brocade One, which is designed to bring many data center operations onto the network for simplified and less costly operations. Brocade One will compete with Cisco's UCS and Juniper's Project Stratus initiative.

Brocade entered into the converged data center fray against Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks June 9 with the introduction of Brocade One, a strategy designed to bring data center operations onto the network.

The initiative is designed to cut costs and simplify data center operations, and includes a host of products and services that include offerings derived from Brocade's $3 billion acquisition of Foundry Networks in 2008. The goal is to make the data center architecture simpler as enterprises make the move to convergence, virtualization and cloud computing.

The way to do that is to bring more of the data center operations onto the network, according to Bob Braham, vice president of integrated marketing at Brocade.

"Brocade One is the unified view of the data center as a network," Braham said in an interview with eWEEK. "The entire network is the data center."

The strategy will take Brocade into the increasingly competitive converged data center space. In particular, the vendor will run up against Cisco, with its UCS (Unified Computing System), an all-in-one data center offering that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking, management software and virtualization, and Juniper's Project Stratus, a single-fabric networking initiative.

A key differentiator for Brocade, according to Braham, is that Cisco is still looking to put the software and intelligence on the server. Brocade is moving them onto the network.

The company wants to take physical data center components and transform them into virtual services that are managed by software.

To that end, Brocade is rolling out a host of offerings to support the initiative.

Included in the new products is VAL, or Virtual Access Layer, which will provide QoS (quality of service) on each virtual machine run on adapters from Brocade and other vendors. It also will support virtualization technology from the major players, including VMware, Citrix Systems and Microsoft.

Brocade's VCS (Virtual Cluster Switching) will enhance the performance of Ethernet networking and collapse the networking and aggregation layer, Braham said, which will mean lower latency and lower costs. VCS clusters will scale to support 1,000 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 10,000 virtual machines.

Network administrators will be able to manage all of that as a single switch, greatly simplifying the network, he said.

Included in the VCS are three new 10G switches that each includes new ASIC and a new operating system called Brocade Network OS. The switches-which include 24-, 48- and 60-port models-will converge Fibre Channel and IP services onto a Linux core.

"It will take the intelligence and put it onto the switch, not the servers," Braham said.

The switches will ship in the fourth quarter and in early 2011, according to Brocade.

Also shipping later in the year will be a new element management system for Brocade One that will integrate Ethernet, Fibre Channel and Data Center Bridging capabilities and be able to work with management software from the likes of Dell, EMC, IBM, VMware and Hewlett-Packard.