Brocade (Nasdaq: BRCD) today unveiled details of Virtual Cluster Switching, (VCS), a new class of Brocade-developed technologies designed to address the unique requirements of virtualized data centers. Brocade VCS overcomes the limitations of conventional Ethernet networking by applying the reliability, flexibility and scalability of fabric switching to data center architectures. Through VCS, Brocade will help customers seamlessly transition their existing network architectures to converged data center fabrics.

Brocade VCS transforms data center networks through four fundamental technological innovations optimized for highly virtualized server and storage environments:
  • Brocade VCS allows organizations to build the industry’s first converged data center fabrics. These fabrics are inherently multi-pathing and resilient, effectively eliminating the need for Spanning Tree Protocol (STP).
  • Brocade VCS provides a completely masterless and distributed control plane. This system provides continuous synchronization of state, status and configuration information - such as virtual machine (VM) meta-data, network and storage policies - between member nodes to enable converged fabrics to be self-forming, auto-healing and self-configuring.
  • Brocade VCS dramatically simplifies management by treating the cluster as a single logical chassis. This management approach significantly reduces the number of elements being managed in the fabric and decreases the associated cost and complexity.
  • Brocade VCS also enables services to be inserted into converged fabrics dynamically, and without interruption or reconfiguration of the network.
“Brocade has paved the way for data center network fabric convergence by combining the best characteristics of existing and emerging technologies into a new network architecture that is purpose-built for virtualized data centers,” said Dave Stevens, Brocade CTO. “Through these innovations, Brocade is delivering a new level of operational simplicity and seamless elasticity in helping customers more efficiently manage and grow their data centers.”

Industry’s First Converged Data Center Fabric

Brocade designed VCS as the core technology for building large, high-performance and flat Layer 2 data center fabrics to better support the increased adoption of server virtualization. VCS is built on Data Center Bridging (DCB) technologies to meet the increased network reliability and performance requirements as customers deploy more VMs. Brocade helped pioneer DCB through the industry standards bodies to ensure that the technology would be suitable for the rigors of data center networking.

Another key technology in Brocade VCS is the emerging IETF standard Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) that will provide a more efficient way of moving data throughout converged fabrics. This includes automatically determining the shortest path between routes. Both DCB and TRILL are advancements to current technologies and are critical for building large, flat and efficient converged fabrics capable of supporting both Ethernet and storage traffic. They are also examples of how Brocade has been able to incorporate decades of experience in building data center fabrics and in delivering the industry’s first converged fabrics.

Distributed Fabric Intelligence

Brocade VCS also enhances server virtualization with technologies that enable enhanced VM visibility within the network and the seamless migration of policies with a VM. VCS achieves this through its distributed services architecture that makes the fabric aware of all of its connected devices and its ability to share information across those devices. Automatic Migration of Port Profiles (AMPP), a VCS feature, enables a VM’s network profiles – such as security or Quality of Service (QoS) levels – to follow that VM during migrations without manual intervention. This unprecedented level of VM visibility and automated profile management helps intelligently remove the physical barriers to VM mobility that exists in current technologies and network architectures.

Simplified Management

Brocade VCS also simplifies the management of Brocade converged fabrics by managing multiple discrete switches as one logical entity. These VCS features allow customers to flatten network architectures into a single Layer 2 domain that can be managed as a single switch. This reduces network complexity and operational costs while allowing VCS users to scale their VM environments to global topologies.

Dynamic Services

Brocade VCS also offers dynamic services, which allows customers to add new network and fabric services to Brocade converged fabrics. Some of these services include capabilities such as fabric extension over distance, application delivery and native Fibre Channel connectivity. Through VCS, the new switches and software with these services behave as service modules within a logical chassis. Furthermore, the new services are then made available to the entire converged fabric, dynamically evolving the fabric with new functionality.