Brocade to bolster Fibre Channel reliability

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. is expected to launch a major upgrade to the software for its Fibre Channel switches that nets users greater availability and reliability for their storage area networks.

The company says it will enhance the Fabric Operating Environment running on its Silkworm Fibre Channel switches by adding security, as well as other reliability features, such as hot code load, which lets administrators load new software without taking the switch down or reinitializing it.

“Brocade understands that security is something customers see as important,” said Jamie Gruener, senior analyst with the Yankee Group. “They are making changes to better support security going forward. The fact that they are adding new security features here indicates that there is a good market for storage security.”

Brocade’s Fabric Operating Environment is the underlying operating system software its entry- to director-level switches use.

The company will add an optional security suite, advanced manageability tools and other high-availability features. The security suite includes digital certificate and digital signature use, as well as multiple levels of password protection. It will make use of the public-key infrastructure, Secure Shell, RSA encryption/authentication, X-509 digital certificates, Message Digest 5 and Advanced Encryption Standard, as well as Diffie-Hellman Key Encryption Protocol-Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol authentication. It also supports new authentication protocol for Fibre Channel networks called FCAP.

With the security enhancements, a storage administrator could create segments of the switch that only certain users have access to, thus protecting storage from unintended changes or damage.

In addition, Brocade will add rules to its existing Secure Fabric operating system that allows storage administrators to predictably configure change management, increase configuration integrity and reduce the risk of failure due to human error.

Further, Brocade will add software that allows administrators to manage Emulex and ultimately other host bus adapters (HBA) through the SAN fabric and download configuration software to these HBAs. This capability is made through the new Fabric Device Management Interface within the American National Standards Institute.

The company has also added a new graphical user interface called WEBTOOLS and remote filtering capability, which are intended to ease and simplify storage management. In addition, the company is adding a capability which allows administrators to load new software without taking the system down or reinitializing it.

Pricing is not available from Brocade. Pricing will be determined by the companies that resell Brocade products.