Two weeks after announcing plans to integrate an Ethernet switch from Cisco Systems Inc. into its BladeCenter servers, IBM Corp. on Tuesday will announce a similar deal with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. to create new integrated Fibre Channel switches for the same line of high-density servers.

The Brocade switches, called the Entry SAN Switch Module and the Enterprise SAN Switch Module, are similar to Brocade’s SilkWorm 3850 switch except they will contain a more sophisticated software stack, said Rob Sauerwalt, the global product manager for IBM eServer BladeCenter.

They are designed to be plugged into the backplane of IBM’s BladeCenter chassis, just like the Cisco Intelligent Gigabit Ethernet Switch Module (IGESM), which was announced April 29.

IBM is promoting the integrated modules as easier to use than externally connected switches. “They install a lot faster, are managed a lot easier, and they greatly reduce the cable count versus an external solution,” Sauerwalt said of the Brocade switches.

The Entry module will support a two-switch fabric, while the Enterprise module will connect to storage area network fabrics with as many as 239 switches.

Both products will be available in June, Sauerwalt said. The Entry product, designed for small- and medium-sized businesses, will be priced starting at US$14,500. The Enterprise module will start at US$19,999, he said.

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