Brocade Accelerates Campus Networking

Networking vendor Brocade is expanding its campus switching portfolio with a new switch. The ICX 6610 is the new flagship campus switch from Brocade, delivering more bandwidth than previous products.

The need to expand campus capabilities is all about providing an on ramp to the cloud.

“To get to the cloud you have to go through the campus,” Joe Ammirato, senior director product management at Brocade told “You might be at work accessing the public cloud, but it’s going through a campus network.

As such, Ammirato stressed that it’s important that campus networks are designed properly to leverage the cloud and create an optimal end-user experience. Overall, Brocade sees the campus network at a portal to the cloud.

The ICX 6610 is a stackable switch that provide 8 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) ports. There is also support for 4 x 40 GbE ports on the switch.

“The 4 x 40 GbE ports will primarily be used for stacking,” Ammirato said.

The way that stacking would work with 40 GbE is that if all four ports are used a ring of up to 8 ICX 6610 switches can be stacked together. Ammirato noted that another scenario could see an administrator using only two 40 GbE ports and use them for stacking and then use the other two 40 GbE ports for uplinks.

When it comes to linking multiple switches together, Brocade also has its Multi-Chassis Trunking (MCT) technology.

“When you have connections that span from one hop to the next, with classic Ethernet you use spanning tree which protects traffic from looping back from the access to the aggregation and back to access, rather than going to the data center,” Ammirato said. “With MCT, you can get that protection without spanning tree.”

Ammirato added that by not using spanning tree, all of the uplinks from the access layer to the aggregation core can be active giving users more bandwidth.

Looking out from the edge, Brocade is also adding new line cards for their FastIron SX aggregation switches to help further enable campus networks.

“When you have edge products they need to transit their traffic to a central area, either aggregation, core or both,” Ammirato said.

Ammirato explained that the FastIron SX is getting new 8 x 10 GbE line cards that enables the chassis to scale to 128 ports of 10 GbE to connect the traffic coming from the ICX 6610. Together with MCT, two FastIron SXs can be paired together in a campus network so that the ISX 6610 can have all of its own 8 ports of 10 GbE going into two SXs.

“The bottom line now is that the access layer has 256 ports logically to attach too instead of just 128 ports,” Ammirato said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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