It was never supposed to be about the speed. The initial messaging for our platform launch in May 2011 was carefully crafted to focus on enabling and optimizing private cloud storage architectures. We spent many hours creatively thinking of positioning and value propositions that would highlight the unique and innovative technology that our talented engineers developed.
When we develop new switching platforms, a speed bump is just one of many features and functions. Over the years we have introduced innovative technology such as frame-based trunking, Brocade Access Gateway, integrated routing, and local switching. Current platform enhancements include Brocade UltraScale Inter-Chassis Links (ICLs) that enable flatter, faster, and simpler fabrics that increase consolidation while reducing network complexity and costs. We also introduced Brocade ClearLink diagnostic port technology which ensures optical and signal integrity for optics and cables, simplifying deployment and support of high performance fabrics.
In homage to Fight Club, I would often start product launch training meetings with the following rules:
The first rule of this launch is you do not talk about 16 Gbps
The second rule of this launch is you DO NOT talk about 16 Gbps
However, when it came time to label these new platforms, the path of least resistance for most people was to call them “16 Gbps” backbones or switches. Other labels like “next-generation switches” seemed too cliché while “cloud-optimized switches” required a lot of explanation. In seven characters (including one space), our newest platforms became part of the “16 Gbps” product launch.
Fibre Channel has long been defined by speed. Paradoxically, when you ask SAN customers why they continue to buy Fibre Channel, there’s a six-nines probability that they will say it’s because of reliability or availability. At best, speed is a distant second or third choice; it’s a stereotype that has stuck in the progression from 1, 2, 4, 8 and now 16 Gbps Fibre Channel technology.
It’s time to break the status quo, it’s not about speed. We are moving away from speed-based naming to generation-based naming.
One of the cues we took came from the wireless industry. Most people intuitively know there’s a technology leap between 1G and 4G/LTE phone technology (talk time, dimensions, data, applications, etc.).
But how many people know the speed difference between 1G and 4G/LTE (hint, it’s pretty convoluted)?
Gen 5 Fibre Channel is the new name we are using for 16 Gbps technology. Like the wireless industry, Gen 5 Fibre Channel represents a technology leap that is more than faster speeds.
Simply put, Gen 5 Fibre Channel is the purpose-built, data center-proven network infrastructure for storage, delivering unmatched reliability, simplicity, and 16 Gbps performance. The Brocade portfolio of Gen 5 Fibre Channel backbones and switches unleash the full potential of high-density server virtualization, cloud architectures, and next-generation storage.
So far the response from our field, partners, and customers has been overwhelmingly positive. A simple name change has started to change the narrative and discussions around Fibre Channel. Will others in the ecosystem follow? Stay tuned.