Brocade says that its VCS Fabric technology enables customers to manage dozens of switches as a single logical device, dramatically reducing operational costs, and enables them to save on installation time because new switches self-provision when they are connected to the fabric.
According to Brocade the VDX 8770 is built for the world's largest data centre environments, and enables customers to expand a single VCS fabric up to 8000 switch ports with up to 384,000 virtual machines attached to the fabric: a claimed twentyfold increase on the nearest competitor.
Brocade also claims the industry's lowest port-to-port latency at 3.5 microseconds across all 1GbE, 10 GbE and 40GbE ports, half that of its nearest competitor. Support for 100GbE ports is planned for the future, along with support for VXLAN - a network encapsulation mechanism that enables virtual machines to be deployed on any physical host, regardless of the host's network configuration.
"It can support up to 80,000 switch port and, more importantly, up to 384,000 virtual machines attached to a single fabric. This is very important when you think about the increase in virtual machine densities that we will see as customers continue to drive server virtualisation...
"The 8770 now gives us the broadest portfolio of fabric products. The customer can start with two top of rack switches and scale up with the 8770 to a single fabric with up to 80000 ports and 384,000 virtual machines. No one else has his breadth of scalability."
Nolet added: "We have future-proofed this platform. We have been developing this product for two and a half years but the engineers were smart enough to realise that data centre innovation is unlikely to slow down any time soon. So we have a 4Tbps per slot backplane - plenty of capacity to support dense 100Gbps ethernet connectivity with a simple line card upgrade - which we will deliver next year."
According to Nolet, new custom ASICs are a key component of the 8770. "We have continued to invest in custom ASIC technology because there are unique things we can do relative to the competition and that we can't do with merchant silicon.
"We built into the ASICs of this product the ability to support new tunnelling protocols without any compromise, meaning we can do line rate switching, deep packet inspection and control of those protocols without any performance degradation...
"We have also built in the ability to do per VM resource allocation - that is very important. If you have a network that is VM aware it can instantiate behaviour and services on behalf of a VM or a class of VMs. To do that with the performance and the speed we are talking about those functions have to be built into the ASICs. And to achieve line rate non-blocking capability with all the protocols we use in the fabric, that also has to be built into the ASICs."
Nolet said the product had been in beta for the past few months with about 20 beta customers, all of which were looking to place orders.
Brocade debuted its VCS Fabric technology in 2010 in its VDX 6720 switch and followed that in 2011 with the VDX 6710 and 6730 VCS enabled switches. It says the VDX 8770 represents the third phase of that vision of "delivering superior automation, resiliency and efficiency to support the most advanced private and public cloud environments."
The product will start shipping in October. It competes with networking fabric offerings from a number of other vendors, mainly Cisco with its FabricPath and Juniper's QFabric. Both Brocade and Cisco use the IETF standard Trill protocol between individual switches in their fabric. Juniper uses proprietary technology in QFabric.
Stuart Corner attended Brocades analyst and technology day as a guest of the company.