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February 10, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Brocade Systems Inc, which claims to have an 85% share of the fibre-channel enabled switches marketplace, has put together a framework for maintaining an open standards-based approach to storage area networks, now a growing part of its business. Brocade’s Fabric 2000 initiative is really just a series of agreements with related vendors that guarantee that thier products will work with Brocade’s switches, something that wouldn’t be necessary at all if the fibre channel standardization process was further advanced. Brocade has enlisted Computer Network Technology Inc, Emulex Corp, Legato Systems Inc, Network Appliance Corp, Qlogic Corp, Sequent Computer Systems Inc and Veritas Corp for the scheme. The 8- and 16-port Brocade Silkworm switches have some built-in intelligence through use of the VxWorks operating system running on an Intel i960 processor, with software for fault-tolerant routing, installation and diagnostics that make up what Brocade calls its Fabric OS. With CNT, Brocade says it will bring the first disaster-tolerant SANs to market. Emulex, Legato, Qlogic and Veritas will provide it with SAN applications ranging from backup and restore to storage consolidation. Network Appliance will offer interoperability between SANs and network-attached storage, as previously announced (CI No 3,583). Brocade promises to supply its integrator partners – such as Columbus, Ohio-based Cranel Inc and Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Datalink Corp – with the framework and implementation manuals for SAN deployments, which it says will reduce time to market by around 30%. The company says it will track other SAN standardization efforts, such as EMC Corp’s SAN Management initiative (CI No 3,589), but is working primarily with the Storage Network Industry Association on standardization. It says it’s been a primary contributor to every major Fibre Channel standard to date. Brocade supplies its switches to Compaq Computer Corp, DataDirect Networks, McData Corp, MountainGate Inc, Sequent, Storage Technology Corp, Transoft Network Inc and Network Appliance Corp. It claims that its competitor Ancor Communications Inc only has around 10% of the market, while Vixel Corp and Gadzoox Networks Inc were both initially wrong-footed by attempting to develop fibre channel hubs rather than switches.

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