Brocade bolsters security in Fabric Manager

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. Monday announced the release to resellers of its fourth-generation Fabric Manager software, which now provides policy-based management, a dashboard-type topology view of a storage-area network (SAN) and better security through encryption and authentication.

Fabric Manager 4.0 also allows storage administrators to use the Fabric Device Management Interface standard to discover, display and upgrade firmware on host bus adapters (HBA) through a single keystroke. The software also comes with an HBA reporting feature, although this version reports only on HBAs from Emulex Corp., which has about 60 per cent of the marketplace.

When combined with Brocade’s Secure Fabric operating system, Fabric Manager allows for the implementation of network-based security policies, according to Steve Daheb, director of product marketing at Brocade.

Michelle Butler, technical program manager for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said she expects to deploy the latest version of Fabric Manager soon and likes its ability to “lock a port down and get into a switch without having to protect our own switch or network with a firewall.”

Butler manages three separate SANs, two with 60TB of capacity and a third with 40TB. She expects those SANs to grow to half a petabyte by the end of the summer.

“Security is only as good as your weakest link,” said Randy Kerns, an analyst at Evaluator Group in Englewood, Colo. “This is covering the management controls to those devices on the network. I think (Brocade’s) probably ahead of the game compared with most of the competition from the security aspect.”

On March 31, San Jose-based Brocade released its Secure Fabric operating system allowing storage administrators to create network management access control lists using public-key infrastructure technology and device access control lists based on World Wide Names (WWN). For example, access to EMC Corp. or Hewlett-Packard Co. storage arrays would be controlled by WWNs, while access to switches would be controlled by digital certificates.

The software also offers authentication and encryption for control information or management data sent between switches or between servers and switches.

According to Daheb, Fabric Manager 4.0 has a more advanced graphical user interface on a dashboard display, vs. a tree configuration that, through custom policies, can display bandwidth thresholds on networked devices.

Dehab said the previous version of Fabric Manager had some security polices in the form of zoning. But with device level controls in the switch with its latest software, “this is a full policy-based infrastructure.”

Brocade also integrated call home support into Fabric Manager, offering alerts via e-mail and pagers.