Brocade Expands VCS Fabric, Introduces New VDX 6940 Switch

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Brocade is updating its data center switching portfolio with new hardware and software that expands on the company’s vision to enable a more agile software defined network.

Internally, Brocade has been referring to its new launch as “Scorpius,” and it includes the new VDX 6940 hardware chassis, which is available in two different models. The VDX 6940-36Q has 36 x 40GbE QSFP+ ports. The Brocade VDX 6940-144S includes up to 96 10GbE ports, along with 12 40GbE or four 100GbE ports. Both of the new VDX switches are 2U chassis that provide more port density than prior Brocade VDX switches. Brocade first launched its VDX product family in 2010 with the VDX 6720, which supported up to 60 ports.

A key part of the VDX 6940’s impressive port density is Brocade’s ASIC silicon. While some networking vendors are using commodity ASICs, Brocade is using its own ASICs in the VDX.

“By leveraging our own ASICs that’s how we get the density advantage,” Jason Nolet, Senior Vice President/GM at Brocade, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “It’s how we do things that other products can’t.” Hardware alone isn’t the full story, as Brocade is also pushing forward on its VCS Fabric, which runs on the VDX chassis. In particular, Brocade has built out a seamless integration to support VMware’s vRealize suite.

“We have effectively delivered into the vRealize environment, visibility and monitoring of the physical fabric so customers have a more comprehensive view of what is happening between their virtual and physical environments,” Nolet explained. “So it all looks like one network and not two.”

Brocade has extended its support for VXLAN to help further enable seamless integration with VMware’s NSX network virtualization platform. Prior to the new Brocade VCS Fabric update, Nolet said that specific switches within a network would need to be set up with VXLAN gateway capability. The VXLAN gateway serves as a bridge between VXLAN tunnels and reglar VLANs.

“What we’re doing now is extending VXLAN Gateway support to be entirely available within the fabric,” Nolet said.

For example, a fabric with 20 switches in it can have VXLAN Gateway functionality on all the switches, providing more flexibility where workloads are deployed. Additionally, the VFC Fabric is now presented to the VMware NSX controller as a single logical entity, so the virtual network policy can extend throughout the fabric.

Additionally, from a software perspective, Brocade is adding an open-source Puppet configuration agent, which will be native on the VDX switch. Puppet is popular tool used in DevOps environments.

“An administrator might want to use Puppet as a means to configure new VLANs for an application,” Nolet said. “Puppet will give administrators a new tool with which to administer and enforce compliance with switch configuration.”

Puppet isn’t the only open-source technology landing on Brocade’s VDX. Nolet said that Python open-source scripting will now also be native to VDX devices.

“So administrators can write and import Python scripts for different tasks, ranging from monitoring to ensuring configuration compliance,” Nolet said. “Additionally, we have also enabled a number of event handlers, where if an event occurs, we can invoke a Python script automatically.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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