Storage switch vendor Brocade has launched 4Gbit/s SAN switch modules for IBM's BladeCenter chassis. Available in 10-port and 20-port models, they allow IBM blade servers to connect directly to the storage switch.

The advantage of this integrated approach, according to IBM systems consultant Tikiri Wanduragala, is that "power and cooling is being hosted by BladeCenter, so the switch vendor doesn't have to put it on the switch." This adds reliablity and lowers cost, said Wanduragala.

IBM said that the addition of the Brocade-designed module, the SAN Switch for BladeCenter, to its product portfolio means that Big Blue now provides a complete Brocade entry-to-enterprise family of 4Gbit/s switches and directors. The 10- and 20-port switch modules can be added to any BladeCenter to connect server blades and SAN fabrics and/or storage devices, according to IBM. The SAN switch module can support up to three Inter-Switch Links (ISLs) per trunk for a total bandwidth of 12Gbit/s and an aggregate bandwidth of 160Gbit/s, said the company.

The new module uses Brocade's fifth-generation ASIC technology designed to provide capabilities such as enhanced distance support and instant provisioning of additional ports using a software-based licence key. The new modules are also designed to support Brocade ISL Trunking, Advanced Performance Monitoring, Advanced Security, Brocade Fabric Management, Fabric Watch and hot code load and activation for greater performance and availability, reckoned IBM.

"The new 4 Gbit/s SAN switch module builds on Brocade’s history of success in integrating Fibre Channel connectivity directly into our blade servers," said IBM's BladeCentre line of business chief, Doug Balog. "In teaming with Brocade to bring their latest embedded SAN blade to market, IBM continues to extend the storage networking capability options for our platform and helps further simplify the acquisition, integration, and operation of advanced servers for demanding IT environments."

Brocade's marketing manager Tom Buiocchi said: "Our long collaboration with IBM helps deliver solutions that build an IT foundation for on-demand business. The release of our most advanced switch technology for the IBM blade server series brings new levels of connectivity to the IBM BladeCenter and will help IT professionals simplify the management of their infrastructure."

Prices are as follows: 20-port 4Gb SAN Switch for BladeCenter, £10,072.00; 10-port 4Gb SAN Switch for BladeCenter, £6,043.00; 4Gb 10port upgrade for BladeCenter, £6,043.00.