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Brocade Enhances Storage Mgt. Software, Adds Encryption Engine

Fibre Channel specialist enhances management capabilities to include products gained from McData acquisition

By Paul Travis, Byte and Switch

Fulfilling a promise it made when it acquired McData last year, storage networking vendor Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) today introduced management software that can manage and secure data flowing across multiple fabrics and handle both Brocade and McData hardware. The company also unveiled encryption products to protect data in storage networks.

The Brocade Data Center Fabric Manager 10.0 is designed to provide end-to-end management of a wide range of systems, from storage ports on network systems to HBAs attached to physical or virtual servers, including Brocade switches, directors, extension devices, and Brocade DCSX backbones. It can scale up to 24 fabrics and support 9,000 fabric ports and 20,000 device ports, the company said.

"Storage networks have become the heart and lungs of the data center, and we have developed an architecture that not only protects the investments made by McData customers, but also enables us to evolve additional capabilities as more companies deal with the challenges of data growth, virtualization, security, and other trends," Mario Blandini, Brocade's director of worldwide data center infrastructure product marketing, told Byte and Switch.

The company is offering two flavors of management products systems. Brocade DCFM Enterprise is for companies upgrading from current Brocade management systems such as Brocade Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager or Brocade Fabric Manager. It provides end-to-end monitoring and statistics, connectivity maps, wizard capabilities, and a variety of other features. "It makes it easier for customers to manage larger environments that have both physical and virtual devices and gives them the tools to quickly understand what is happening and respond," Blandini said.

Smaller companies may want to look at Brocade DCFM Professional, which offers a subset of the features found in the enterprise product and is designed for smaller SANs with up to 1,000 ports in a single fabric.

As Brocade battles with rival Cisco, its new management products are designed to "provide common management across their Brocade and McData product portfolios," said Jon Oltsik, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) . "They are trying to get into more depth in monitoring and analyzing fabric and traffic patterns. If they hadn't integrated their management systems, it would have opened the door to Cisco."

Brocade also introduced its first line of encryption engines to offer "fabric-wide" encryption for data at rest within a data center. Offered as a standalone Brocade encryption switch or as the Brocade FS8-18 blade for the Brocade DCX backbone chassis, the engine offers up to 96 Gbit/s of processing power. The systems comply with high-level encryption standards and integrate with leading key management products from vendors like NetApp and EMC/RSA; integration with key products from HP and nCipher/Thales is planned. They also support backup applications from IBM Tivoli , EMC Legato , Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), and CommVault Systems Inc. , with support for backup products from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and BakBone Software Inc. planned.

"Encryption in the past has been deployed selectively, and we're trying to address the cost and complexity with our first generation of encryption so customers can eliminate islands of encryption. It's a new approach," said Jose Carreon, the company's director of data center infrastructure security product marketing. Offered in two configurations, Carreon said the high-end version is powerful enough to add encryption to a four-hour backup without adding any time to the process.

Analyst Oltsik noted that Brocade's first encryption offering gives customers an option they can turn to other than Cisco, and he said encryption has now become "table stakes" for vendors wanting to play in the Fibre Channel switching market. "What Brocade has done is make encryption part of the overall storage management system, which is important as the amount of sensitive information grows within organizations."

Brocade also rolled out a variety of professional services to help customers implement the new products.

Expanding its product line and making acquisitions should serve Brocade well as it competes against rivals like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), according to Roy Kaushik, a financial analyst with Pacific Growth Equities Inc. . In a recent note to clients, he wrote that the acquisition of Foundry Networks could help Brocade "be one of the top two vendors for end-to-end network solutions." The loser may be Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) because it doesn't offer storage networking systems, he said. "We believe investors are overly concerned about the competitive threat from [Cisco]. In our opinion, [Brocade] will remain the dominant provider of [Fibre Channel] switches throughout the life of the [FC technology."

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  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)
  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)
  • Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY)

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