Last month, I talked about how Juniper Networks was getting launching their new datacenter architecture for converged data centers, in response to Cisco's plans to do the same thing. Well this week it was Brocade's turn to announce their converged data center plans with the focus on simplifying datacenter networking down to a single layer.
Unlike Juniper's announcement, which was for products that will lead up to their eventual release of their Stratus switching fabric, Brocade's technology, named Brocade One, will be available in Q3 of this year in the form of the Brocade Network Operating System, a product of the continued development of the technologies Brocade acquired that were driven by the corporate acquisition of Foundry Networks in 2008.
The simplification of the network from three layers to one is accomplished via the technologies that Brocade calls Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS), which runs on top of the new operating system and allows the network to utilize a group of routers as a single network entity. More important is the technology that will sit between the network and any virtual machines, the Virtual Access Layer. This layer allows a certain degree of location independence for all virtualized resources, by allowing virtual machines to be moved within the network infrastructure without the need to for administrators to explicitly reroute all the related resources that are used by or are provided by the virtual machine. Actual Brocade hardware to support this environment, in the form of small 10Gb switches, is due out in Q4 of this year.
Brocade is also looking at the concept of the entire network being the datacenter; moving their technology beyond the physical confines of the traditional datacenter environment. They are looking at this approach as a competitive advantage, commenting that their unnamed competitors are simply looking at rewiring the existing datacenter model.
Conceptually, the push to simplify datacenter networking is a valuable one, as the basic concept of the virtualized datacenter needs to be a top to bottom approach across all aspects of the datacenter environment. And it's possible that Brocades "beyond the datacenter's walls" approach might give them a bit of an edge in the marketplace, at least until their competitors see it as a viable way to pursue business.