At an analyst day held here Tuesday, Brocade introduced Cloudplex, an overall cloud framework that includes Ethernet and Fibre Channel fabrics; servers, presumably from multiple vendors; and additional equipment such as load balancers that move traffic across distributed data centers.
Future pieces of Cloudplex will include Virtual Compute Blocks, which are prefab packages of servers, storage and networking, and Cloud ID, a technology for keeping virtual machines secure.
Brocade also brought out a boatload of new products. A new version of its VDX switches, to be launched later this year, will carry Ethernet and Fibre Channel traffic, creating a link between those two types of fabrics. (Brocade didn't previously have a way to unify the two.) A new adapter card will support both 10Gbit/s Ethernet and 16Gbit/s Fibre Channel, giving each server the ability to run either protocol.
On the router side, Brocade is announcing it's done field trials with a two-port 100Gbit/s line card on the MLX line of routers.
Why this matters
Brocade sees the cloud, and especially the data center fabric, as its big chance to trump rivals, especially Cisco and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). Brocade is leaning on its expertise in storage-area networking and the fact that it's the only one of that competitive set shipping a storage fabric for next-generation data centers.
The real target appears to be Cisco. Cloudplex accomplishes what Cisco's Computing System (UCS) does, but in a less proprietary way, says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group Research Inc.
His point is that UCS is sort of like vertical integration, because it uses Cisco's own servers along with Cisco networking gear. Brocade's Cloudplex behaves more like middleware, creating a translation point that connects any computing infrastructure to the network.
Brocade will be putting a lot of emphasis on Cloudplex's openness -- that is, the fact that it encourages customers to buy whatever servers they want. "From the vendor roadmaps I've seen, they are the most open," Kerravala tells Light Reading.
The fabric wars are going to get particularly loud during Interop next week. (Brocade tried to beat the rush by bringing analysts here for a day-and-a-half event held at its headquarters.) Here's our coverage of the topic so far.
- Brocade Intros Cloudplex
- Brocade Adds Cloud Pieces
- Force10's Fabric Is a Quilt
- Force10 Simplifies Management
- AlcaLu Wants the Data Center, Too
- AlcaLu Unveils 10GigE Switch
- Cisco Counters Fabric Challengers
- Brocade Responds to Juniper's QFabric
- How Q-ute! Juniper's QFabric Rethinks the Data Center
- 10G Ethernet Switches Pass the Test
- Brocade Takes Aim at Nexus
- Brocade Preaches Data Center Nirvana
- Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity
- Cisco's Nexus Targets Data Center's Future
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading