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Brocade takes on Cisco, HP, Juniper in network ease

Added on Mar 07, 2012 by Jim Duffy, Network World

Brocade this week is looking to simplify the campus edge with two additions to its ICX switch line and plans to more easily mix and match ICX switches in and between stacks.

The mix and match stacking capability is what Brocade calls the HyperEdge. It's intended to simplify operations and management. Simplifying the campus network is not new. Juniper is counting on its Simply Connected portfolio to drive product sales in the campus and branch. And HP, Cisco and Extreme have their own visions of network simplicity for enterprise campuses.

Brocade's HyperEdge capability is the foundation of its Effortless Network initiative. It's intended to allow IT to easily operate, manage and scale the campus access network to better accommodate new and existing business applications, like unified communications, security, "bring your own device" mobility, video and desktop virtualization.

According to ZK Research, 37% of downtime in the campus network is due to human error on an increasing number of manual processes.

HyperEdge is designed to let users manage their entire access switching layer as if it were a single device, and provide consistent policy among all access layer ports. Users can mix and match high-end and entry-level switches within a single stack, so that entry-level switches inherit all of the features of the high-end switches in the stack, Brocade says.

This extends the life span of the switching infrastructure, Brocade says, from three to five years to seven to 10 years. As needs broaden, high-end switches can augment existing entry-level switch services instead of requiring a replacement of those switches.

Brocade officials says they have not yet calculated the limit of switches or ports that can be managed under a single IP address when stacked together and in groups of stacks. They said there will likely by "hundreds" of HyperEdge switches capable of being managed under a single IP address.

HyperEdge will be available on Brocade's ICX and FCX stackable switches through a software upgrade available in the first half of next year.

In the meantime, Brocade unveiled two new stackable ICX switches this week that feature, among other capabilities, support for Energy Efficient Ethernet and MACsec link-level encryption. The switches are available in 24-port and 48-port Gigabit Ethernet models, with optional 1/10G uplink or stacking ports to support up to 384 ports of density.

The new stackable access switches join the recently released Brocade ICX 6610 switch. The Brocade ICX 6430 and 6450 are available today directly through Brocade and its channel partners with at a starting list price of $1,295.