Brocade boosts security in SAN software

Storage switch maker Brocade Communications Systems Inc. this week released the fourth generation of its software for managing storage-area networks (SAN), adding new change management and security features as well as a dashboard-style user interface.

San Jose-based Brocade said the Fabric Manager 4.0 upgrade lets storage administrators logically cluster groups of switches or communications ports on their SANs. The administrators can then perform management and reporting tasks across the devices via a single operation.

The release also provides network topology maps and “SAN-at-a-glance” views designed to help IT managers visualize SAN configurations and track changes, according to Brocade. In addition, when combined with the Secure Fabric Operating System software announced in late March, Fabric Manager supports the implementation of network-based security policies, said Steve Daheb, the company’s director of product marketing.

For example, the software offers authentication capabilities and can be used to encrypt control information or management data that’s sent among different devices on a SAN. Daheb said the previous version of Fabric Manager supported some SAN security policies in the form of zoning. But he noted that with the device-level controls built into the upgrade, “this is a full policy-based infrastructure.”

A ‘Lock’ on Security

Michelle Butler, technical program manager for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said she expects to deploy the new Fabric Manager release soon. Butler noted that she 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 SANs — two with storage capacities of 60TB each, and one with 40TB. The SANs will likely total half a petabyte of data by the end of summer, she said.

With the upgrade, Brocade is “probably ahead of the game compared with most of the competition from the security aspect,” noted Randy Kerns, an analyst at Evaluator Group Inc. in Englewood, Colo.

Fabric Manager 4.0, which will be sold through disk array vendors that resell Brocade’s SilkWorm switches, can also be used to manage host bus adapters made by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Emulex Corp., via the Fabric Device Management Interface standard.