Storage markets are hotting up, with the major players jockeying for position with acquisitions and alliances. Brocade, the leading Fibre Channel switch supplier, also supplies director-class devices. CNT bought InRange, one of its competitors at the director level, earlier this year. Brocade's other competitor in the director market is McDATA and it bought storage IP networking supplier Nishan quite recently.

Both McDATA and Cisco are promoting the idea of extended SAN access across IP networks based on storage routing platforms. Brocade uses its Fabric Application Platform to offer facilities to extend, scale and consolidate SANs, with separate SANS capable of being consolidated into a single Logical SAN (LSAN). Ethernet-connected servers can access the SAN via an iSCSI to Fibre Channel (FC) bridge while FC-IP translation enables FC SAN access to be extended over an IP network with a CNT router at the edge of this extended SAN.

Brocade and CNT have announced an alliance to enhance Brocade's routing capability in this area and add IP storage networking to its range. The idea is to extend access to Brocade Fibre Channel SANs by using IP networking based on the CNT router. CNT will offer the Brocade family of SilkWorm fabric switches to its global customers, calling these products its preferred storage networking solutions, and complementing CNT's current FC/9000 FC/FICON director-class switch offering, which uses the bought-in InRange technology. In return, Brocade recommends CNT's UltraNet Edge products as a preferred SAN extension solution to its OEM and reseller channels worldwide.

CNT's UltraNet Edge Storage Router 3000 supports 1Gbit/s or 2Gbit/s FICON or Fibre Channel, or SONET as well as IP; point-to-point or multi-destination routing; connection to a SAN fabric and direct connect to storage. It enables customers to define on a port-by-port basis the storage configurations that match their storage networking requirements, using a simple GUI tool.

CNT's UltraNet Edge 300 reduces storage network bandwidth use through hardware compression and, via the GUI, users can allocate portions of available bandwidth to specific applications during production hours or, during different times of day, help ensure quality of service (QoS) across a shared network. This helps mitigate the potentially large drain on an IP network of storage traffic. Brocade and CNT have also agreed to qualify the interoperability between the CNT FC/9000 Fibre Channel/FICON Director and Brocade SilkWorm fabric switches. As a result, CNT customers will be able to build storage area networks consisting of CNT and Brocade products, extending the value of FC/9000 environments. No announcement has been made about CNT selling Brocade's Silkworm 12000 director-class device.