As a past customer who has deployed many production networks, I can say that there is an overall process of planning, configuring features, and verification. In IT, there is always more that needs to be done than there is time to get everything done, I have never seen otherwise. This directly means that leveraging any technology that can deploy faster and easier will contribute directly to the benefit of the IT department as well as the overall enterprise.
There is a networking conundrum. Prior to Ethernet Fabrics, no fundamental advancements were made to traditional Ethernet networks for more than a decade, yet, those networks grew in complexity and scale by more than an order of magnitude. Ethernet Fabrics are a Brocade innovation solving these problems. Ethernet fabrics provide: scale without the complexity; significant reduction in the process of planning, configuration and verification. By returning the most valuable resource back to IT and the enterprise, namely time, resources are freed to drive new and needed valuable IT projects improving productivity and competitiveness of the overall enterprise.
Time saving with Brocade Ethernet Fabrics:
Zero-touch configurations to add capacity rapidly, easily and non-disruptively
Right from the get go starting with data center network planning, Cisco FabricPath is considerably more complex, complexity that exists for no other reason than to just be complex and time consuming. Brocade VCS has no such unnecessary complexity. Complexity opens great opportunities for human error. Errors introduced into complex systems further consume time and resources expending efforts to resolve problems while reducing ROI and increasing TCO, after all, these resources are not free and all the while other valuable projects lay waiting. This is just the planning phase.
For the configuration phase of an Ethernet Fabric project, it is best to demonstrate the difference between Brocade VCS and Cisco Fabric Path by showing the actual CLI commands needed to configure two spine switches and four leafs using Port Channels and only 4 VLANs. Here are the commands starting with Brocade VDX/VCS…
Brocade VCS Ethernet Fabric Configuration
No commands needed!
Brocade VDX/VCS has a fully automated process achieving the exact same thing as FabricPath without laborious, time consuming, error prone configuration. Refer to Cisco FabricPath configuration below. For Brocade, just make the physical connections to the ports you desire to use.
This Cisco configuration is filed under... REALLY?!
Automatic prioritization of iSCSI traffic
For LLDP there is an iSCSI TLV used to advertise the iSCSI QoS configuration parameters to the attached DCB enabled servers and targets. Using Data Center Bridging (DCB) with Priority Flow Control (PFS) and Enhanced Transmission Selection (ETS) for iSCSI based IP storage provides a lossless and bandwidth guaranteed environment for iSCSI. This is significant because the configuration of this on Brocade VDX/VCS is fast and simple; therefore, deploying network capacity for iSCSI on a Brocade VCS is less time consuming.
No changes to the core
Core routing must always remain stable, and changes to the core are often discouraged and viewed with trepidation. Brocade VCS providing scale-out Access and Aggregation layers within a data center will appear to the core as a single L2 switch with multiple redundant connections. Simplicity provides reliability, ease of management, and faster time to resolution during troubleshooting. Brocade vLAGs (Virtual LAGs) connects the VCS to the core using ISLs from multiple VDX devices. This is a highly reliable architecture.
VCS Logical Chassis
VCS Logical Chassis is expediency by way of a single virtual chassis. On Cisco, adding capacity to a network can imply a number of intermediate configuration steps along the way, for example: joining port channels and trunks, ACL/security, VLANs and pruning, QoS, etc… By way of a single point of management (Brocade Logical Chassis), the network administrator eliminates the need to manually configure and manage each switch, which simplifies management, reduces configuration errors, and speeds deployment completion time dramatically.
The claim is 5x times faster to deploy data center network capacity using Brocade VCS vs. Cisco FabricPath. Given this comparison of the CLI commands maybe this estimate is too conservative?