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Data Center

Adaptability in Fixed Form Switches

by asardell ‎01-03-2017 03:03 PM - edited ‎01-06-2017 07:47 AM (6,655 Views)

In our December announcement of three new data center switches, we introduced adaptable network elements at the leaf, spine and border leaf. This announcement complemented our SLX9850 at the spine or super spine, creating a complete portfolio for the modern data center (Figure 1).


SLX Port at Glance.png

Figure 1: Brocade SLX Portfolio at a Glance


This diagram gives you an idea of the relative capacities and typical network locations for the SLX portfolio. In previous blogs, we’ve focused on our automation capabilities through Brocade Workflow Composer and visibility capabilities through SLX Insight Architecture and Visibility Services. Here, we’ll focus a bit more on the hardware, by concentrating on how these boxes fulfill the requirements of their respective data center locations.


Leaf and Spine


The programmable Cavium XPliant chipset powers our new SLX9140 and 9240 switches at the leaf and spine. Using a programmable chipset allowed rapid development of our Visibility Services capabilities: multilayer classification and workload matching at network-wide scale and wire rate performance.  


Using programmable silicon is important because switches can sit in the network unchanged for several years, and customer requirements can change during that time. Until now, meeting these changing needs would require a forklift upgrade.


Now our customers can take advantage of new technologies through an operating system upgrade, and will no longer be restricted by or locked into the hardware lifecycle—they can adopt new technology innovations without refreshing their switches.


The SLX 9140 and 9240 switches (Figure 2) work in tandem to provide a high-density 100 GbE spine-leaf connection.


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Figure 2: SLX 9140 (Leaf) and 9240 (Spine) Switches 


In response to customer demand, we’ve provided native 25GbE on the SLX 9140. Many competitors use either custom ASICs or breakout cables to deliver this capability, which adds unnecessary cost and complexity. 


As overlay networks become more dominant, high-performance network virtualization becomes a critical capability. In the SLX 9140, we deliver high performance VXLAN on the hardware. Payload timestamping is included here to complement our delivery of native visibility capabilities from the ASIC. Customers get a more complete picture (including when packets arrive at each network hop) to more accurately inform their SLA measurements.


The SLX 9240 is a very high-density spine switch. The flexible ASIC plays a role here as well, because technology requirements differ across the network. We focused on virtualization at the top of rack, and high density at the spine.   


Border Leaf (Edge)


The third new switch we introduced last month is the SLX 9540—you can think of 9540 as a “slimmed down” (fixed form factor) version of the SLX 9850. SLX 9540 (Figure 3) uses the Broadcom Qumran chipset.    




Figure 3: SLX 9540 Border Leaf Switch: Flexible, Robust, and Cost-Effective  


SLX 9540 will revolutionize how customers think about their network edge. Like the Jericho chipset, Qumran has ultra-deep buffers, making it a more appropriate chipset for its place in the network (PIN).


Since SLX 9540 has the same carrier-class features as SLX 9850, it also serves as data center interconnect (DCI) or WAN edge router.


The Complete Portfolio


These switches comprise the hardware foundation of a complete portfolio (Table 1) that includes the embedded visibility and automation capabilities to accelerate innovation in the next-gen data center.


Table 1: Key Benefits of the Brocade Agile Data Center Portfolio

DevOps-Inspired Automation


Embedded Network Visibility


Adaptive  Platform Flexibility


Brocade Workflow Composer platform and Automation Suites improve IT agility and accelerate innovation with cross-domain event driven automation.

Brocade SLX Insight Architecture and Visibility Services enable network visibility from wire to workload for pervasive real-time monitoring and automated actions.

Brocade SLX portfolio enables agility at all layers of the data center stack with programmable ASICs, open APIs and designs that adapt to emerging speeds, standards and protocols.


The SLX data center portfolio can be used most effectively with Brocade Workflow Composer, the SLX Insight Architecture, and the Visibility Services as a cohesive unit. However, this is not a requirement—you can use these tools in component form as well.


Call to Action


More information on the SLX portfolio can be found here or by contacting your Brocade representative.