The word “convergence” is now taking on new meaning for data center networks as networking vendors aim to create unified fabrics. The latest entrant into the space is Brocade, which this week announced its Brocade One unified network strategy for convergence and data center networking.
With the new effort, Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD) is aiming to make it easier for network administrators to deal with connectivity, storage and virtualization management and operations. Brocade One comes as rival networking vendors including Cisco and Juniper deliver their respective visions of unified computing.
“Brocade One is a unified view of the network with one operating system, one architecture, one set of management tools, and that ties back to convergence,” Bob Braham, vice president of integrated marketing at Brocade, told InternetNews.com.” With virtualization, cloud and convergence, the entire network is your data center.”
One of the components of Brocade One is the new virtual cluster switching (VCS) technology, which is all about enabling virtualized data center convergence. Brahman noted that VCS enables a data center administrator to manage multiple switches as one. With the initial release, VCS will be capable of managing up to 10,000 10-gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. Braham added that the plan is to expand to even more port control as the VCS technology develops.
Additionally, VCS will also enable virtual machine mobility with its virtual access layer (VAL) technology.
“In the world of virtual machine mobility, the heavy lifting isn’t just in moving the machine,” Brahman said. “The heavy lifting is in moving all the attributes with the virtual machine– the security, quality-of-service policies — so this is an automated profile movement that moves policies with the virtual machine.”
Braham noted that what VAL enables is a virtual access layer that providers network administrators with a virtual machine view of the network, in which every switch is virtual machine-aware. He added that VCS will also leverage the emerging Internet Engineering Task Force’s TRILL (Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links) standard for data transmissions across converged fabrics.
“Ten years ago, convergence meant voice, video and data on a single wire,” Braham told InternetNews.com. “Today, convergence is about storage and server communication on a single wire, so IP and fibre channel.”
The other key component of the Brocade One strategy is converged network management, which is where the new Brocade Network Advisor product comes into play. “This is an amalgamation of two products. Essentially the management tool from our fibre channel line and the management tool for our IP line are being merged into one,” Braham said.
While networking vendors are now pushing the merits of a converged networking infrastructure, Braham noted that new approaches takes time for enterprises to consume.
“The promise of convergence on paper looks really good,” Braham said. “But the reality is that operational silos and education is a big deal. The biggest challenge we face isn’t about Brocade or technology, it’s about internal consumption and people issues.”