Brocade Weaves ‘Tapestry’ to Tackle Cisco

Brocade is preparing to ratchet up its competitive battle with Cisco in the market for storage networking gear.

In a departure from its basic storage switch strategy, the company has constructed new application infrastructure software that helps companies manage heavy data loads and meet service delivery and accountability promises. The idea is to help corporations lower their costs for maintaining servers, storage and applications.

The San Jose, Calif., company introduced its Tapestry line with two major software components to start the company off as it tries to catch up to rival Cisco software moves: Tapestry Application Resource Manager (ARM) and Tapestry Wide Area File Services (WAFS).

ARM provisions and manages server hardware, operating systems and storage to help applications move more efficiently across a computer system, according to Brocade product director Max Riggsbee. The official said Brocade sees this technology as similar to what Cisco now offers in the wake of its TopSpin acquisition.

Topspin makes server fabric switches that trigger grid and utility computing software, as well as clustered enterprise applications, and virtualization software. Brocade is headed in that direction based more on customer demand than on Cisco’s activities. Riggsbee acknowledged that this is natural because Brocade and Cisco are fighting for the same customers.

ARM is now in early release to Brocade partners and customers.

Brocade’s WAFS software, based on a technology agreement with start-up Tacit Networks, helps companies manage file data from a central server without compromising speed or security for remote users.

In yet another parallel, Cisco purchased Actona Technologies last year to offer similar functionality, and moved on FineGround Networks just yesterday. But those purchases afford Cisco the opporunity to offer WAFS on Linux systems.

Riggsbee said Brocade aims to make Tapestry WAFS the first such software based on Microsoft’s Windows platform, providing integration and security for branch offices using Microsoft applications.

Brocade is also fine-tuning its flagship SilkWorm switch family, offering new SAN switch and director platforms that run at a speedy 4 gigabits per second to its OEM partners.

At the high-end, the SilkWorm 48000 can support up to 256 ports. The SilkWorm 200E is an 8- to 16-port switch targeted at the smaller SAN market segments. Both products will be available later this year.

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