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Broadcom Brocade launches 2 new SAN management products

Broadcom releases new Brocade SAN management software to help users visualize and optimize storage and a new Fibre Channel extension switch to speed long-distance replication.

Broadcom launched two new software products for customers to manage Brocade SAN fabrics and a Gen 6 Fibre Channel extension switch for small- and medium-size businesses to speed data replication over long distances.

With color-coded dashboards, the Broadcom Brocade SANnav Management Portal and SANnav Global View are designed to make it easier for users to visualize, monitor, troubleshoot and optimize SANs than Brocade's older Network Advisor product.

"It's really about modernizing the interface using the visual representations that most customers are getting used to," said Scott Shimomura, head of product marketing and education for Broadcom's Brocade storage networking.

The SANnav Management Portal captures SAN telemetry data and incorporates the information into graphics that turn green, yellow or red to signal the health of customers' SANs. The software also provides topology views that users can drill into with a single click to find congestion points and other trouble spots. Customers can gain access to real-time, as well as historical, views to identify problems.

"This type of network topology understanding has become far more important as organizations have made the transition to flash," said Scott Sinclair, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "With disk media, the network was never the bottleneck. Now, you actually have to take performance into consideration and better understand where your performance is being allocated and how adding new storage -- especially flash storage -- impacts the overall load. The better you can understand the health, the more you can isolate problems."

Sinclair said he thinks the end-to-end view of performance data that Broadcom Brocade is providing will be especially important as SAN environments grow larger and as organizations transition to ultra-fast, low-latency NVMe-based storage and NVMe-oF technologies.

Single-pane view

The new Broadcom Brocade SANnav Global View targets customers that run multiple instances of the SANnav Management Portal across multiple fabrics. Global View can aggregate information from the Management Portal and provide a high-level, single-pane view into all their environments.

Global View and the SANnav Management Portal are separately licensed, but they work together seamlessly, Shimomura said. Customers can run the software on a dedicated server or virtual machines. Broadcom Brocade will continue to support the existing Network Advisor product for some time, but plans to go to those same customers to try to sell the SANnav Management Portal and SANnav Global View, he said.

The ultimate goal is to build in analytics and machine learning capabilities to get to a "self-aware, self-healing and self-managed autonomous SAN," Shimomura said. The SANnav software can export information into other tools, such as those found in storage systems and VMware, he added.

Steven Hill, an analyst at 451 Research, wrote in an email that one of the traditional challenges for Fibre Channel (FC) has been a lack of visibility into the physical network for performance and troubleshooting. Vendors have had to simplify and automate many of the complexities of managing large storage environments as SAN oversight trends away from storage specialists to IT generalists, he said.

"Whether you call it machine learning or artificial intelligence, there's an increasing expectation for our systems to become largely self-managing and self-repairing," Hill said.

New Broadcom Brocade extension switch

The new 7810 Extension Switch supports Gen 6 FC with a dozen 32GFC ports and six FC over IP (FCIP) WAN ports at 1 Gigabit Ethernet or 10 GbE. Shimomura said the extension switches are designed to boost the performance of replication traffic between data centers, with one switch on each side of an IP WAN connection, for disaster recovery and business continuity purposes.

"The problem with IP WAN connections is they generally come with two basic flaws: latency and packet loss," Shimomura said. "This technology is designed to provide local replication performance over IP WAN connections in a manner that overcomes latency and packet loss and provides a secure environment."

The single rack-unit 7810 model joins the 2U, higher-end 7840 Extension Switch that has been available for several years for larger enterprises. The 7840 supports Gen 5 FC with two dozen 16GFC ports, 16 FCIP WAN ports of 1 GbE or 10 GbE and two 40 GbE FCIP WAN ports. With FC, the actual line speed is 14.025 Gbps for 16GFC and 28.05 Gbps for 32GFC before encoding overhead is factored in.

Brocade also sells a Gen 6 SX6 Extension Blade for Brocade X6 Directors with 16 32GFC ports, 16 FCIP WAN ports of 1 GbE or 10 GbE and two 40 GbE FCIP WAN ports. Pricing was unavailable for the new 7810 Extension Switch, but Shimomura said the cost is lower than for the other Broadcom Brocade extension switches.

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