Brocade Announces Standards-Based SAN Initiative

In an effort to encourage widespread deployment of storage area networks (SANs), Brocade Communications Systems Inc. ( launched Fabric 2000, a framework for creating SANs based on open standards and Brocade's SilkWorm line of Fibre Channel fabric switches.

Brocade enjoys an 84 percent market share in the Fibre Channel fabric switch market, according to Greg Reyes, Brocade's president and CEO. The company has also been heavily involved in Fibre Channel standards development, he adds.

Under the Fabric 2000 roadmap, Brocade plans to develop standards-based SAN solutions in conjunction with a number of partners. So far, several vendors have come out in support of the framework, including Computer Network Technology (, a SAN hardware vendor; Emulex Corp. (, which develops and sells Fibre Channel host bus adapters and hubs; Legato Systems Inc. (, a storage management software vendor; Network Appliance Inc. (, which develops and sells data access appliances; QLogic Corp. (, a Fibre Channel hardware maker; Sequent Computer Systems Inc. (, which makes Intel-based servers; and Veritas Software Corp. (, a storage management software company.

The fact that Brocade has signed up such a wide array of well-known vendors bodes well for the success of Fabric 2000, according to John McArthur, program director for storage systems research at International Data Corp. (IDC, "I think Brocade is going to get a lot of visibility and acceptance in the market based upon a couple of things, not the least of which are the partners with which they'll be delivering solutions," he says.

Brocade recently announced additional partnerships with two of the vendors -- Computer Network Technology (CNT) and Network Appliance. Brocade and CNT plan to create a disaster-tolerant SAN solution for distributed environments by combining CNT's UltraNet SAN solutions with Brocade's fabric switches. With Network Appliance, Brocade plans to develop storage networking architectures that combine SANs and network-attached storage (NAS).

Offering such complete solutions will help encourage the deployment of SAN solutions, according to McArthur. "When someone is thinking about pulling together a storage area network, they want to know that all the pieces have been tested. That's what they're doing here," he says.

In addition, the Network Appliance alliance may help clear up confusion in the industry about whether NAS and SAN are competitive or complementary, says Rich Boberg, senior director of business strategy and development at Network Appliance. "They're at two different places in the network," he says. "It's like saying routers and switches are competing."

Also as part of the Fabric 2000 announcement, Brocade announced Solutionware, a set of packaged "how-to" manuals that explain the deployment of Fibre Channel devices in a SAN. The manuals are designed for Brocade's qualified system integrator partners. Brocade hopes the manuals will help them reduce time to market for SANs by as much as 33 percent. The first available Solutionware guide covers Fibre Channel tape backup and restore. The company plans to release additional guides this year.