Brocade to tidy up data centers

Brocade Communications Systems, a maker of storage-area networking gear, has announced a new family of software products designed to help companies better manage information stored in their data centers.

Brocade Communications Systems, a maker of storage-area networking gear, has announced a new family of software products designed to help companies better manage information stored in their data centers.

Known as Tapestry, the product line features two applications that were rolled out recently. The first, called Application Resource Manager (ARM), allows companies to automatically provision and activate servers.

As companies consolidate their data centers using higher-density servers and blade servers, they need a less complicated way of managing these resources. The ARM Tapestry software is designed to help them reduce the manual tasks associated with managing different storage components.

Specifically, the software automatically manages the relationships between server hardware, operating-system images, application software and the actual data that is being stored. As a result, new servers and applications can be added to a data center in minutes instead of hours.

The second Tapestry product announced Wednesday uses wide-area file services (WAFS) technology, which is designed to allow companies with geographically dispersed branch offices to store content in a central data center without sacrificing performance.

When data is accessed over long distances, there often is a lag in the time it takes to deliver the content. The WAFS system improves performance over long distances. As a result, companies can store information centrally and allow employees in branch offices to access it as if the information was stored locally.

"We listened to customers about the challenges they face and learned that the consolidation and centralization of storage and server resources presents an opportunity to deliver breakthrough capabilities in the data center," Michael Klayko, chief executive officer of Brocade, said in a statement. "With today's announcements we are starting the rollout of new and exciting capabilities for the enterprise computing market."

The new products in the Tapestry family are a direct result of Brocade's acquisition and investment in technology outside the company. The auto-provisioning and service activation technology comes from Therion Software, which was acquired in early May. The WAFS capability comes from a US$7.5 million investment in Tacit Networks, also announced in early May.

Brocade's competitors, namely Cisco Systems, also are marketing data-center management products to companies. In December 2004, Cisco introduced its own WAFS product, which is based on technology it acquired from Actona. Cisco also competes with Brocade in storage-area network switching.

In addition to the new product family, Brocade announced that it will make its SilkWorm 4-gigabit Fibre channel switches available to OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners. The company also unveiled a number of professional services to help partners and customers with design, installation, operation and support of their storage-area networks and data centers.

The Tapestry software will ship in the fall, when Brocade also will begin offering its SilkWorm storage-area networking switches through OEM partners.--by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.com