Data Center

Brocade Ethernet Fabrics Lower OpEx by 50%

by mdetrick on ‎02-04-2014 03:35 PM (6,383 Views)

Brocade Ethernet Fabrics lower network OpEx (Operational Expenses) by 50%

Can such a claim be true?  This appears to be an outrageous claim!  How can so many of the world’s fortune enterprises justify paying twice as much for network operations?  Have these fortune Cisco IT shops evaluated Brocade VCS?  Are there any compelling reasons not to use Brocade VDX products if this claim is accurate?  Don’t Network Administrators have pending important projects that are waiting?  Projects deemed by executive staff to improve revenue and drive down expenses.


The answers are…  The claim is absolutely true.  Cisco shops that evaluate in earnest Brocade Ethernet Fabrics discover this claim to be unequivocally true.  Fortune companies cannot justify unnecessary and excessive OpEx.  There are no compelling reasons to not use Brocade VDX as it offers features and functionality that fully satisfy data center requirements including: features & functionality, manageability, reliability, scalability, supportability...


Below is a list of just some of the reasons why Brocade Ethernet Fabrics lower OpEx by 50%...


  • Automatic Fabric Formation and Brocade Trunking

Configuring a Brocade VCS Ethernet Fabric is as simple as making the physical connections between the VDX switch ports.  Brocade Trunks (BT) are exclusive to Brocade hardware and perform frame based load balancing while maintaining in-order delivery.  All BT links appear as a single large bandwidth connection and are auto-forming.  There is no configuration required and performance is markedly better than Cisco Port Channels.


Brocade’s automation of Ethernet Fabric formation permits network administrators to deploy a production network without entering a single command and planning is greatly simplified.  More importantly than the speed of execution; the elimination of human error, associated troubleshooting efforts, and any production downtime is of considerable importance.  If you don’t have to enter a command, you can’t make a mistake.


Cisco FabricPath for a small network (6 switches) will require hundreds of CLI commands to form a basic Ethernet Fabric.  The opportunity to introduce error is great, and the planning effort is significant, laborious and time consuming.  The resources required for FabricPath are significantly higher for the entire life of the Cisco equipment, not just deployment.  This single item by itself proves the claim.


  • Auto Fabric Provisioning

Auto Fabric Provisioning allows organizations to automate the configuration of new switches added to the fabric. Simply plug in a switch to the fabric and it automatically downloads the right software image from the server. No manual configuration is required, reducing staging and deployment time.


  • One less network tier to manage

Brocade Ethernet Fabrics provide intelligent services such as Ethernet Name Service (eNS) that permit scale-out capacity of data center networks and VM integration.  The Access and Aggregation tiers can and should be consolidated.  The unification of the Access and Aggregation tiers will result in fewer network devices, less planning, less downtime, less troubleshooting, less configuring, less monitoring, less support, etc… ultimately the aggregation of savings over time will result in significantly less OpEx.


  • VCS Fabric Diagnostics

Organizations can use various Brocade Network Advisor tools to visualize Ethernet Fabric traffic paths, measure network latency, pinpoint bottlenecks, and perform fault isolation via hop-by-hop inspection. Network administrators can leverage sFlow data across the VCS fabric to enable VM-level monitoring and to gain application performance insights.  Leveraging these tools and insights maintains consistent and effective production service levels resulting in reduced OpEx and more satisfied customers.


  • Logical Chassis Efficiency

Brocade VCS Logical Chassis allows organizations to manage an entire VCS fabric as a single switch, enhancing the overall availability and reliability of the network. This single point of management eliminates the need to manually configure and manage each switch, simplifying management, lowering operational costs, and reducing configuration errors.  For example, an ACL that must be applied to all switches can be configured once and done.  VCS Logical Chassis provides a single view of the fabric, allowing centralized monitoring and troubleshooting that minimizes time to resolve network issues, hence, lowering OpEx.


  • Simplified Deployment of VDX firmware

Network Administrators can push firmware upgrades across the fabric using a single command.  Maintenance windows will be reduced allowing IT personnel to finish sooner and not have to work into the wee hours of the morning.  Brocade VCS can download firmware to all devices with a single command.  This is a non-disruptive process.  After downloading, each VDX can be instructed when to activate its new firmware while maintaining an always-on network.  Firmware updates have never been so fast and easy.  OpEx is further reduced by Brocade’s automated Ethernet Fabric firmware updates.


  • Zero-Touch VM Discovery, Configuration, and Mobility

The integration of virtual machines and network infrastructure is a difficult task without Brocade Ethernet Fabrics.  Brocade has vitally important features simplifying integration that are just not found on competing systems.


-    AMPP (Automated Migration of Port Profiles)


When a VM moves to another host connected by a totally different switch, it is critical that network policies follow to the destination, and are enforced on the new port.  Many settings such as VLAN, QoS, FCoE and security are controlled in the physical network and not on the distributed virtual switches.  Without automatic migration of the port profile, network requirements can break.  This is essential for intercommunications for both intra-pod east/west and inter-pod north/south.


AMPP is VM agnostic and will work with all types of VMs.


The alternative to using AMPP is for the administrator to make all the necessary changes to the network each time a VM must be moved.  This would be operationally expensive, inconvenient and very restrictive.  It is never known when a VM may need to be moved and with what urgency.  For example, there may not be a Network Administrator readily available at all times to perform such migration tasks.


Brocade AMPP enables administrators to:


  • Integrity checks frequently consume a lot of time.  With Brocade Ethernet Fabrics, Network Administrators can perform integrity checks on port profiles across all Brocade VDX switch configurations, either in the same VCS fabric or across multiple fabrics.
  • Create, read, inventory, delete, associate, and disassociate port profiles to VMs; simplifying and saving time related to port profile management.

-   VMware Specific Support – VM-Aware Network Automation


VM-Aware Network Automation dynamically discovers virtual assets, activates port profiles and configures the network.  Port profiles are automatically created for each distributed/standard port group.  vNIC MAC addresses are associated to the port profiles and all necessary VLANs are automatically created within the Ethernet Fabric.  Rapidly associate VCS port profiles and VMware port groups managed by one or more VMware vCenter servers.  Port profiles are distributed across the entire Ethernet Fabric ready for connectivity updates.  VM-Aware Network Automation supports VM mobility across the Ethernet Fabric while protecting against MAC spoofing attacks.  By communicating directly with VMware vCenter, Brocade VM-Aware Network Automation eliminates time consuming and error prone manual configuration of port profiles, which is particularly beneficial when thousands of VMs are involved.  Communications with VMware vCenter are secure.


AMPP and VM-Aware Network Automation enable organizations to fully align virtual server and network infrastructure resources realizing the full benefits of server virtualization.  Operationally, Brocade VM discovery, configuration and mobility establish streamlined control and reduced OpEx.


  • Training, Education Costs and Time

Consider a Cisco FabricPath configuration of a spine and leaf network with 2 spine switches and 4 leaf switches.  There is a large amount of complex configuration required and these configuration skills come from extensive training.  The amount of training, or lack of training, will dictate the staff’s ability to circumvent error and overall time to resolution.


Now, consider Brocade Ethernet Fabric configurations.  Brocade CLI is very familiar to IT folks that know Cisco CLI making prior education pertinent.  The real Brocade benefit relative to training is: less to learn, faster to learn, less operational cost, less risk of expensively trained employees leaving the company, less complexity, less opportunity to configure something wrong, etc… From an OpEx point of view, the bottom-line is that fewer resources are required to bring employees to an expertise level of Brocade Ethernet Fabrics in order to design, build and maintain production networks.


  • Power, Cooling & Space

There is a direct relationship between OpEx and the cost of providing power, cooling and space for equipment in a data center.  This can work out to thousands of dollars per year per box depending on the efficiency of the device.  In comparison with Cisco FabricPath, Brocade Ethernet Fabrics use a fraction of the power, cooling and space.  The difference is significant and further drives true the lower OpEx claim made in this paper.


  • No more STP!

A considerable effort must be applied by the Network Administrators over the life of a traditional Ethernet network to plan for and manage Spanning Tree Protocol (STP).  Clearly, STP has become the bane of Network Administrators everywhere.  When data center networks are added to or changed in some fashion, it is prudent to evaluate how STP will change as well.  There are many factors to consider such as root switch changes, tree topology changes, multiple trees, active vs. passive link changes, VLAN changes, etc…  Using Brocade Ethernet Fabrics eliminates the need for arduous and time consuming efforts related to network adds/deletes/moves/changes.  Brocade Ethernet Fabric TRILL requires no configuration or configuration changes, and provides load balancing across all available links.  No need to designate any links as passive or active, all links will be active. Links automatically calculated to be ECMP (Equal Cost Multi-Path) will load share flows.  Brocade leverages its vast expertise in TRILL “like” protocols having been proven in production networks for over a decade now.  Using Ethernet Fabrics, your struggles with STP will be over.


In conclusion:

Brocade has innovated many effective ways to make network administration simpler and easier, removing unnecessary complexity and ultimately lowering OpEx by 50% or more.  Within Cisco IT shops, there is a real belief in an artificial truth concerning the standard of OpEx for a traditional data center networks or competing Ethernet Fabrics.  Brocade challenges this belief!