Brocade Teams with Optical Networks to Connect SAN Islands

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Optical Networks Inc. joined forces to tackle interconnecting enterprise storage area networks (SANs) over metropolitan-area optical networks (MANs). Companies that have two or more SAN islands residing within a MAN, now will be able to connect them via a fiber-optic network.

Under terms of the agreement, the companies will work together to enable connectivity from SANs -- based on Brocade's ( storage networking platform -- through metropolitan optical networks using Optical Networks' ( Dynamic Transport System (DTS). The two companies plan to integrate their respective management software platforms; ensure interoperability between the Brocade SilkWorm family of Fibre Channel fabric switches and Optical Networks' DTS; and promote their respective offerings to enterprise customers and metropolitan carriers.

Brocade’s SilkWorm switches connect servers with storage devices through a SAN, providing a highly available and scalable environment for disaster recovery, remote backup, and server and storage consolidation.

Optical Networks' DTS is a next-generation transport system that lets service providers offer several new classes of data services and significantly upgrade capacity without adding fiber or imposing cost-prohibitive equipment upgrades. It combines high channel counts, up to 66 wavelengths, with complete wavelength manageability, and it transparently supports multiple service types, including SONET and Fibre Channel.

In addition to verifying product interoperability, Brocade and Optical Networks plan to integrate their software management environments to enable a unified view of SAN management across an interconnected SAN, regardless of the backbone network or distance.

The initial phase of software integration is expected to be complete in the second quarter of 2000.

Peter Tarrant, vice president of marketing and business development at Brocade, expects the combination of Brocade’s storage networking products and Optical Networks' DTS to drive SAN expansion by simplifying deployment issues.

In particular, Tarrant says, this relationship will extend the bandwidth, reliability, and manageability of SANs across MANs, providing up to 2 Gbps transmission speed per wavelength, or 132 Gbps per system.

"As SAN implementations continue to increase in both size and complexity, connecting enterprise SAN islands over a larger metro area is the next evolution of an adaptable storage infrastructure," says Sean Derrington, program director at Meta Group Inc. (

Tarrant says that with a fiber-only, high-speed SAN-to-SAN connection, companies will be able to run SAN applications -- such as remote backup and storage, dynamic data replication, and disaster tolerance -- that they otherwise could not.

SANs across optical networks in a metropolitan area also will generate a new class of storage utility services for metro carriers and service providers. Service providers, such as Storage Networks Inc. (, will be able to offer their enterprise customers cost-effective, outsourced storage services on-demand. This will free them from the time consuming and costly management of storage environments.

"As storage requirements continue to grow 200 to 300 percent per year, driven by e-business requirements, Fibre-Channel-to-fiber-optic connectivity will help organizations increase the flexibility and capabilities of their storage infrastructure to meet ever-increasing storage demands," Derrington says.