Brocade revamps networking line-up for the cloud

The networking company has updated its carrier-class hardware and software with changes meant to appeal to telecoms companies keen to offer cloud services

Networking company Brocade has released a range of software and hardware updates targeted at service providers such as telecoms companies, which it believes are well placed to move into cloud services.

100GbE Brocade blade

Brocade has released a range of software and hardware updates, including a 100GbE MLX blade designed for high-bandwidth services. Photo credit: Brocade

The company announced the upgrades at its Technology Day Summit in San Jose, California on Tuesday.  It has updated its MLX router family with service-provider specific slot-in blades, improved the switching capabilities of its compact NetIron routers, introduced a new Ethernet access switch and upgraded software across its core, metro and edge routing products.

Cloud computing will fundamentally change service providers and their business models.

– Ken Cheng, Brocade

Brocade believes that as service providers provide more application services over their existing networks, their infrastructure needs will balloon with the growth of throughput imparted by the applications.

"Cloud computing will fundamentally change service providers and their business models," Ken Cheng, Brocade's vice president for service provider products, told the audience at the conference. "In fact, we believe this transformation is going to be the single biggest driver in cloud infrastructure deployment, because they have everything to win."

As service providers have pervasive local infrastructure and experience in managing end-to-end networks, these companies could provide a more pervasive service-level agreement (SLA) than those offered by cloud service competitors, according to Cheng.

Moving to cloud

Brocade is not alone in its belief that service providers stand to benefit from moving to cloud services, such as setting up virtual private clouds for enterprises. In 2009, HP predicted that many European telecommunication companies would become cloud providers within 12 to 18 months.

Many service providers have already made the move. For example, AT&T, Orange Business Services and BT already operate local infrastructure in Europe for cloud services, and Verizon Business Services is planning to come to the UK in mid-2011 with its own service.

Companies other than Brocade are also attempting to get their hardware, software, or both, into the emerging service provider cloud market. In 2010, IBM unveiled a platform that bundled hardware and software to make it easier for telecommunications companies to deliver cloud services over their networks.

In addition, in late 2010 Brocade's networking rival Cisco partnered with EMC, VMware and Orange to form the Flexible 4 Business cloud alliance which uses Orange's — or customers' — datacentres as hubs for cloud services.

Brocade's announcements on Tuesday plug into this trend. The MLX router family has gained two new blades designed for high-bandwidth services, such as online video streaming. The blades come in two-port 100GbE and eight-port 10GbE variants.

"These modules are built for internet scale IPv4 and IPv6 routing," Cheng said.

Alongside this, the 1U NetIron CER 2000 series of routers adds new models designed for provider edge routing, datacentre border routing and enterprise border routing. The company has also addressed IPv6 and IPv4 interoperability and general scalability via a NetIron 5.2 software update for the series.

The company also announced a new switch — the Brocade 6910 Ethernet Access Switch, which is designed for mobile backhaul and public safety networks — which can extend wire-speed Ethernet to the network's edge. All of the updates and new products introduced on Tuesday are available immediately, a Brocade representative said.

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