Brocade has new versions of its file-aggregation and access software that it says will let customers tap into and manage data more easily, while letting them provision servers on the fly.

Data Migration Manager can now be used to move data when the storage system is online, resulting in migration of data without disrupting operations. And Application Resource Manager has provisions for the automated failover of servers and connection to iSCSI networks. Brocade has also improved StorageX to add policies and reports on file replication.

In its traditional fibre business, the company has a new 48-port blade and an eight-port iSCSI blade for its Silkworm 48000 Director level switch, which lets users build larger, more scalable multi-protocol SANs. The company also has an Access Gateway for bladed servers, as well as SAN extension gear that offers interoperability with McData switches, encryption and improved WAN analysis tools.

"On the blades and switches, Brocade is providing full 4Gbit/s performance and iSCSI support with no port tax, so end users don't need to sacrifice a port to get multi-protocol support or higher performance or density or redundancy," said data mobility analyst William Hurley.

Beset with increasing competition from Cisco for its core business, Brocade sought to protect itself by buying one of the last remaining Fibre Channel vendors, McData, for $713 million last month. The purchase aims to re-establish Brocade as the market leader in Fibre Channel director-level switches.

According to research from Dell'Oro Group, Cisco edged out Brocade for the first time in the second quarter of 2006 in director-level switches. Cisco had a 33.6 percent market share, followed by Brocade with 33.3 percent and McData with 32.9 percent.

In 2002, Brocade acquired Rhapsody Networks, a maker of Fibre Channel intelligent switches. Its product became the basis for the Brocade Silkworm Fabric Application Platform, which now provides switch-based storage virtualisation.

"We are trying to grow our core business - Fibre Channel switching," said Brocade's marketing director Mario Blandini. "We are also diversifying our business into adjacent markets, because we believe that shared storage is the model by which enterprises get efficiencies and can better manage their data."