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Brocade’s Ethernet Fabric is Ideal for Virtualized Data Centers

by John.McHugh on ‎04-01-2011 03:32 PM (354 Views)

Brocade’s Ethernet Fabric is Ideal for Virtualized Data Centers

In November of last year Brocade rolled out its VDX products and started the biggest transformation in our industry since layer 2 switches emerged 15 years ago. 

Fabric networks excel over traditional Ethernet networks in four simple regards.  They are inherently more resilient, they provide higher effective bandwidth, they provide fewer hops between any two points, and they provide a flat topology.  These characteristics were all critical when the first storage networking solutions were being conceived of 15 years ago.  Storage is a critical system asset which always has to be accessible, low latency and universally shared.   Brocade’s innovation and experience with this technology has led to a clear position of leadership from a market share and solution standpoint.

So, when we started looking at virtualization of servers and applications, we realized the same concepts applied and we were really onto something big.  This fabric architecture knowledge has proved critical when we began developing new Ethernet fabric-based networking solutions to create a flat, multipath, deterministic network ideal for virtualized and cloud environments. This approach provides virtual machines a greater sphere of mobility, increases network utilization, creates more resilient networks and simplifies the management of data center networks.

Instead of a traditional Ethernet network that utilizes best effort Spanning Tree Protocol – a fabric has some very unique characteristics.  First, it is low latency with massive scaling capabilities because everything in a fabric is connected to everything else directly rather than having to go through a whole Spanning Tree architecture back to the trunk and then back out to a leaf node again. Second, it’s resilient without being redundant and it doesn’t require everything to be replicated.  Fabrics also have the ability to pull together multiple paths through the network because everything’s active and able to use the bandwidth all the time.

When Brocade addressed the industry last June at our annual Technology Day, nobody else in the industry was talking about fabrics yet.  The conversation in the industry was mostly focused on deploying virtualization.  Some were mentioning flat networks, but Brocade shook up the world by asserting that it’s time to start understanding the importance of fabrics in the Ethernet world. In November of last year we rolled out our VDX product and we began shipping the first true Ethernet fabric. We started the first salvo in what we believe is going to be a comprehensive transition of our entire industry.

What we’re seeing now is our competitors are scrambling to try to catch up with us – either with half finished architectures or by trying to create software features to emulate a hardware-based fabric like what Brocade is offering today.  We can see now that we really did envision something before the whole industry and feel strongly that the power of fabrics – their flat, simple, intuitive, low latency and scalability is exactly the right thing to build a high availability data center to enable the virtualization that customers need to deploy throughout their server domains.

We’re incredibly excited as our customers begin deploying Ethernet fabric-based architectures. Even in the first couple of months of production our customers are deploying significantly large fabrics to turn on in their data centers.  This is the ultimate validation, when customers see the value and importance and how differentiated Brocade’s solution is from anything they‘re going to be able to get from any competitor.