Brocade Communications Systems Inc has added three new switches to its product line and upgraded its operating system. The company says the new releases are the next stage in its Fabric 2000 strategy, announced back in February, which aims to get the company’s switches established as key components for storage area networks. The new Silkworm […]
Brocade Communications Systems Inc has added three new switches to its product line and upgraded its operating system. The company says the new releases are the next stage in its Fabric 2000 strategy, announced back in February, which aims to get the company’s switches established as key components for storage area networks.
The new Silkworm 2000 switches include the 2400 and 2800 eight and sixteen port fibre channel switches, and both offer a new universal port which can auto-sense devices connected, simplifying installation. Other features include hardware port zoning for better security – which adds to the current software only zoning – and hot-swapable redundant components, including power supplies and cooling trays. The switches are backward compatible with existing Silkwork switches, and should be available in the third quarter of the year. Brocade isn’t quoting prices, but says the new switches are around 25% cheaper than existing models. It expects them to gradually replace current products over the next six to twelve months.
The third product, the SilkWorm 2100, is a new product category for Brocade. It is a looped switch, providing interconnection for FC-AL fibre channel arbitrated loops, and upgradable to a full fabric switch via software downloads. Brocade intends the cheaper new product to provide a new entry-level alternative to managed hubs from hub makers such as Vixel Corp and Gadzoox Networks Inc. Both Vixel and Gadzoox have loop switches as well as managed hubs, but don’t offer the option of upgrading to full fibre switches. Loop switches offer better fault isolation at the port level and full bandwidth between any two parts, while managed hubs must make do with shared bandwidth. The price, says Brocade, is somewhere in between a managed hub and loop switch.
Last month, however, Brocade lost out to its chief rival in the fibre switch market, Ancor Communications Inc, over a strategic deal to supply fibre channel switches on an OEM basis to Sun Microsystems Inc (CI No 3,676). Brocade says the reason Ancor won the deal had nothing to do with technology but came down business terms which Brocade found unacceptable. As part of its deal Ancor had to make its software source code freely available to Sun and agree to sell 1.5m shares to Sun at $7.30 apiece for each $67 of revenue it receives from Sun for the sale of its products. Ancor has 24.1m share outstanding and stand to receive $10.95m if Sun sells $100.5m of its kit. However the price looks cheap given Ancor’s share prices is now over $20.
Brocade said its goal is to remain a cross-platform supplier and could not countenance hitching itself so intimately to Sun’s wagon. It nevertheless points to new OEM deals it has won recently from Dell Computer Corp, Siemens AG and Groupe Bull, and promises more OEM announcements shortly. Ironically Brocade was co- founded by VP engineering Paul Bonderson, formally with Sun and its venture capital backers include Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Of course Sun says it chose Ancor because of its superior ability to scale and meet our customers current and future interconnect requirements.