Brocade expanding SAN software

Brocade expanding SAN software

Brocade Commuications is set to announce new versions of its file-aggregation and access software that it says will let customers tap into and manage data more easily while letting them provision servers on the fly.

Data Migration Manager now can be used to move data when the storage system is online, resulting in migration of data without disruption of operations. Application Resource Manager now has provisions for the automated failover of servers and connection to iSCSI networks. Brocade also has improved StorageX performance and global namespace scalablity and added policies and reports on file replication. The company acquired the software products a year ago from NuView and Therion.

In its traditional Fibre Channel switching line of business, the company will roll out a 48-port Fibre Channel blade and an eight-port iSCSI blade for its Silkworm 48000 Director level switch, which lets users build larger, more scalable multiprotocol storage-area networks (SAN). The company also will introduce an Access Gateway for bladed servers, as well as SAN extension gear that offers interoperability with McData switches, encryption and improved WAN analysis tools.

"On the blades and switches, Brocade is providing full 4Gbps performance and iSCSI support with no port tax, so end users don't need to sacrifice a port to get multiprotocol support or higher performance or density or redundancy," says William Hurley, senior analyst with the Data Mobility Group.

Beset with increasing competition from Cisco for its core business, Brocade this year set out to protect itself from further market- share encroachment from Cisco by buying one of the last remaining Fibre Channel vendors, McData, for US$713 million. The purchase aims to reestablish Brocade as the market leader in Fibre Channel director-level switches with two-thirds market share.

According to research from Dell'Oro Group, Cisco edged out Brocade for the first time in the second quarter of 2006 in director-level switches. Cisco had a 33.6 percent market share, followed by Brocade with 33.3 percent and McData with 32.9 percent.

In 2002 Brocade acquired Rhapsody Networks, a maker of Fibre Channel intelligent switches. Its product became the basis for the Brocade Silkworm Fabric Application Platform, which now provides switch-based storage virtualization.

"We are trying to grow our core business -- Fibre Channel switching. We are also diversifying our business into adjacent markets, because we believe that shared storage is the model by which enterprises get efficiencies and can better manage their data," says Mario Blandini, director of product marketing for Brocade.

Blandini says Brocade's goal by the end of fiscal year 2006 is to have 5 percent of its revenue from professional services, 5 percent from its Tapestry file and SAN provisioning products and 90 percent from its traditional Fibre Channel gear business. Adding the professional services organization from McData to this mix is expected to increase revenues when the deal closes in the first quarter of 2007.

Brocade has done well with its acquisitions, users and analysts say.

"Enhancements to the NuView storage software shows that Brocade is seriously committed to pushing the technology forward and that robust file sharing is a real problem in all organizations, large and small," Hurley says.

"When you are in acquisition mode there is a certain amount of time it takes to get things to a point where your offering is a lot better than just the individual products," says Leon Verriere, manager of systems engineering for Mohawk Industries, which is a Brocade and NuView customer.

"While Brocade has done a good job of integrating products so far, they still have work to do. These acquisitions elevate Brocade to a much higher level," he says.

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