Brocade and McData Ready Switch Upgrades

Fibre Channel devices will improve SANs but complicate decisions.

An upcoming round of Fibre Channel switch upgrades from several vendors should make storage area networks more functional and interoperable for large users. But as built-in features differentiate the new crop of products, users accustomed to bundled offerings could face a more complicated SAN decision.

This week, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. will announce new configuration links between its switches and Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView Storage Area Manager software, based on an API-sharing deal the companies announced last fall.

The pair will also announce the embedding of an OpenView agent in Brocades FabricOS 3.0, according to sources. The updated operating system is expected to ship "in the latter part of the first half of this year," said Greg Reyes, chairman and CEO of the San Jose, Calif., company.

Working with HP, which is Brocades largest reseller, will "create an incremental opportunity for us. OpenView is a broadly adopted management framework," Reyes said. For users, "this will allow them to use a set of management tools theyre familiar with to manage their Brocade environments," he said.

"We already own HP OpenView. That would be very valuable for us," said Peter Hubbard, senior Unix/SAN engineer at Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "Right now, were just managing each component individually."

MPI uses 16 of Brocades SilkWorm 2800 switches and four SilkWorm 3200 units, connected to 16 terabytes of Hitachi Ltd. Lightning 9960 and Thunder 9200 storage arrays. "Theres a lot of sequencing data for our clinical research; its really a mixed match," Hubbard added. "We need to pay more attention to what our data is."

Also new in FabricOS 3.0 is hot code-load, a long-awaited feature that lets users make SAN configuration tweaks without rebooting. The Brocade announcement will come this week at a Reyes keynote during HPs ENSA@Work conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Brocade isnt alone. Rival McData Corp. also has feature and interoperability plans.


Switch plans for 2004:
  • 10G-bps ports and iSCSI ports
  • Long-distance replication over IP
  • Virtualization software
  • Embedded security features
Upcoming features from the Broomfield, Colo., company include an iSCSI blade, shipping in the second half of this year for the Intrepid 6000 series of high-end switches. It will have two Gigabit Ethernet ports, plus three standard 2G-bps Fibre Channel ports, officials said.

After an April demonstration at the Storage Networking World show in Scottsdale, Ariz., the vendor will release switches with support for the evolving storage management specifications Common Information Model and Bluefin, officials said.

In addition, McData expects to make its SANavigator software certified for Cisco Systems Inc.s switches by next quarter, McDatas president and CEO, John Kelley, told eWeek.

Cisco itself is working to partner with vertical-market specialist Inrange Technologies Corp., of Lumberton, N.J. They plan to license Inranges PerformanceVSN monitoring software later this quarter or next quarter, officials of both companies said.