Brocade will soon unveil 100Gbps Ethernet additions to its switching and routing product line, in what the company claims is its most significant Ethernet/IP product rollout since acquiring Foundry Networks in 2008. The new products could include a 32-port 100Gbps Ethernet router previewed at Brocade's technology day conference. It could also include a chassis-based core data centre switch mentioned at the same conference.
Brocade would not confirm these possibilities. But in an email prelude to the announcement, the company said it has "industry altering news regarding 100Gigabit Ethernet and several other significant developments" for service provider and data centre networks. In the email, the company said it will provide 100G Ethernet per port pricing, "ultra high density" chassis-based routers, and "competitively-priced" 100G Ethernet blades for carrier platforms.
"This announcement also marks Brocade's most significant networking platform development as a result of acquiring Foundry Networks to address a $30 billion addressable market," the email states.
Brocade has been struggling with Foundry. The company just reported fiscal third quarter results that saw Ethernet/IP sales dip 5% from the second quarter, while the rest of the industry either grew very slightly or remained flat. Brocade also acknowledged missteps in its Ethernet/IP go-to-market strategy as reasons behind a significant drop-off in sales in the first quarter. The company rebounded a bit in second quarter Ethernet/IP sales, but the third quarter saw that 5% dip.
"100G is important for Brocade," says Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala. "Foundry was known as an innovator in the space but Brocade had fallen a little bit behind. This [announcement] is important to maintain its position as an innovator."
At the June technology conference, Brocade said it planned to trial later this year what it claims will be the highest density, 32 ports, 100G Ethernet router in the industry. Several service providers were ready to place orders for the system, Ken Cheng, vice president and general manager of Brocade's IP Products division, said at the time. "We want to lead in the 10G, 40G and 100G Ethernet technology transition," he said in June.
Routing leader Cisco currently supports 16 100G Ethernet ports in a single, full-rack CRS-3 core router chassis. No. 2 Juniper supports eight 100G Ethernet interfaces in a single, half-rack T1600 core router chassis. Alcatel-Lucent also announced 100G Ethernet interfaces for its edge routers.
Brocade also said in June it will ship in 2011 a chassis-based core switch for data centres that incorporates a new operating system and ASICs designed to support Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS). VCS allows a cluster of switches to be managed as a single logical element, and is designed to provide lossless, low latency, deterministic multi-path Ethernet networking for, among other applications, Fibre Channel over Ethernet converged LAN/SAN switching.
Brocade's first VCS switches will be 24-60 port 10G Ethernet access and aggregation layer devices shipping in the fourth quarter of this year and first quarter of next. At first customer ship, a VCS switch cluster will support 1,000 10G Ethernet ports and 10,000 VMs, and can be managed as a single logical switch.