IBM have announced a nice new Brocade sourced 24 port Fibre Channel switch (the SAN24B-5 based on the Brocade 6505). This is a great addition to the family as it delivers two key features that I think are vital for new infrastructure purchases.
- It is 16 Gbps capable. This means you can install 16 Gbps SFPs that run at 4 Gbps or 8 Gbps or 16 Gbps. Don’t worry if your HBAs are not 16 Gbps yet, you need to get the backbone running that fast first. Note however that IBM and Brocade both say the switch can run at 2 Gbps, but that is only true if you install 8 Gbps SFPs. So if you have some old legacy kit with 2 Gbps HBAs then you need to plan for this (by buying some of those Brocade branded 8 Gbps SFPs). Or use this as a reason to get that old kit off the SAN.
- It has the option for a second power supply. I was never happy that the previous 8 Gbps capable smaller switch in the portfolio (the 24 port SAN24B-4) had only one power supply. But while this is an important improvement, the second supply is still only an option. So if you’re a client, make sure it is included in any quote. I suspect the price difference as a percentage will not be large enough to justify NOT adding that second power supply. I note that the IBM marketing page linked above says the switch has integrated power supplies (which implies to me they are not removable), but the Brocade page says they are hot swappable (which is the correct description). Of course if you only have one power supply, then it is rather hard to hot swap it.
Any disappointments? Well actually just one: Brocade’s new 16 Gbps ASICs add compression and encryption for ISLs, something that I think is well overdue and very very cool. But sadly if you want those features (and I think that you should), you will need to buy the larger 48 port SAN48B-5 (based on the Brocade 6510).
I was slightly bamboozled that some of the marketing write-ups describe the product as a switch for private cloud storage. Brocade do attempt to explain this on page 3 of their FAQ document that you can find here. That document is well worth checking out.
For more details, Roger Luethy has a nice write-up on the SAN24B-5 here.