Brocade revamps network managed service for Australia

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Brocade revamps network managed service for Australia

Brocade is revamping its network managed services offering to streamline load balancing and application migration in virtualised environments.

The new service will also include new storage area network (SAN) monitoring capabilities, extending the current offering from just CNT switches to proactively monitor all Brocade switch products in the data centre.

SAN monitoring capabilities will be available by the end of the year. It is anticipated the virtualisation management functionality will be ready by the end of 2009.

Customers will be able to engage directly with Brocade or via the OEM channel to access the service.

Although none of the existing 100 customers are Australian, Brocade has entered discussions this week with several local prospects in the banking and finance and outsourced data centre markets to use the revamped service, according to Graham Schultz, Regional Manager A/NZ at Brocade.

Brocade also has plans to engage with local OEMs to help them resell the service to their customer base.

Managing application migration in virtual environments will be a key feature of the revamped service.

Server virtualisation can be an attractive way for companies to quickly allocate resources to an application to cope with peak or unforeseen workloads.

The issue for many customers lays with existing virtualisation hypervisor management tools.

Because these tools don’t always provide visibility into the status of the underlying network infrastructure, problems can arise. For example, an application can be migrated to a server that is ‘asleep’ or disconnected, claims Mike Schmitt, Director of Network Managed Services at Brocade.

“[With our service] we can validate the different network paths that the application is committed to, and proactively identify and communicate potential issues,” explained Schmitt.

Customers can then address these issues on-premise through their existing server or data centre management tools.

To enable this capability, Brocade is building a series of host bus adapters (HBAs) to help ‘understand’ the memory and bandwidth requirements of applications and determine their readiness for migration to a new virtual server.

The company is also working with both VMWare and Microsoft to integrate with their respective hypervisor management tools. It has an existing relationship with Citrix, which will cover XenSource integration.

The service will also extend a customer’s ability to allocate quality of service to certain applications from within the fabric operating system. This was one of several new features launched with the DCX backbone in January.

“Companies need to take a holistic view of virtualisation that also includes the network infrastructure,” explained Schultz.

“Infrastructure monitoring needs to be built into their virtualisation strategy and architecture to enable customers to scale virtualisation effectively at the edge of the network.”

Approximately one quarter of existing customers use the service exclusively through the OEM channel.

Under this model, Brocade provides management alerts directly to the OEM, which then provides first-level support. OEM customers can also choose to receive these alerts directly.

Customers pay a set-up fee of approximately US$12,000, and a per-device charge for monitoring. This cost is dependent on the type of switch. Further options are available to customise the monitoring reports received from Brocade, or to have Brocade analyse them.

“We are revisiting the pricing as part of the refresh [of the service],” added Schmitt.
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