Brocade says IBM has qualified the FICON capability of its Silkworm 12000 Fibre Channel switches and will support it, allowing mainframes to be connected to existing SANs. FICON is IBM's fibre-based successor to ESCON for connecting storage to its mainframes.

Brocade's Paul Trowbridge admitted it was ironic that the 12000 was not already qualified for FICON, because while IBM re-sells switches from a number of companies, the Brocade devices are the only ones it sells with IBM badges on - the Silkworm 12000 is IBM's TotalStorage M12 SAN switch.

"Now we can play in the merged Fibre Channel/FICON space," he said. "We see IBM driving the consolidation of open systems and mainframe storage, and we have been seeing increased requests from our users for FICON support."

This follows FICON's evolution from a single-switch archticture to today's SAN-equivalent version which supports cascaded switches, making it possible for users to consider creating a common storage infrastructure for both mainframes and open systems.

Trowbridge said that the FICON capability was a software update which would also be available to other Brocade OEMs, allowing any of them to sell FICON switches too. He added that Brocade was now looking at adding FICON to its 32000 series switches as well.