Brocade Communications Systems this week is expected to unveil a major upgrade to the software for its Fibre Channel switches that will give users greater availability and reliability for storage-area networks.

The company said it would enhance the Fabric Operating Environment running on its Silkworm Fibre Channel switches by adding security and other reliability features such as hot code load, which lets administrators load new software without taking the switch down or reinitializing it.

Brocade's Fabric Operating Environment is the underlying operating system software for its entry- to director-level switches. The company says it will add an optional security suite, advanced manageability tools and other high-availability features. The security suite includes digital certificate and digital signature use, as well as multiple levels of password protection.