Network fabric innovation is in our DNA. We’ve been an industry leader in Fibre Channel SAN fabrics for more than 15 years, and we’ve extended that expertise to Ethernet. As you’d expect, Brocade Ethernet fabrics provide far higher levels of performance, utilization, availability and simplicity than traditional Ethernet networks. But that’s just the beginning of our Ethernet fabrics story.

Our Ethernet fabrics are a vital component of the open, innovation-centric, software-enabled approach to networking commonly referred to as the New IP. And critically important, they feature management simplicity and native automation that streamlines your New IP journey, and a phased implementation approach that lets you transition at a pace that’s aligned with your business goals.

Underlaying the New IP

New IP discussions tend to focus on technologies like server and network virtualization, cloud, and SDN. And these elements do contribute critical flexibility, management simplicity, and cost-savings. But they also fall into a category known as the network overlay. The network overlay is a software-enabled logical topology that is decoupled from the physical wired network. The wired network is the underlay, which is what actually forwards IP packets from one endpoint to another.

An Ethernet fabric is an ideal network underlay. In fact, it’s the most often recommended underlay for the New IP. That’s because its design inherently takes advantage of the virtual constructs of server virtualization, network virtualization, and SDN. Ethernet fabrics are agile, automated, easy to scale up or out, and can adapt instantaneously to changes in traffic flows, packet sizes, and protocols. Still, not all Ethernet fabrics are alike.  

Brocade Ethernet Fabric Advantages

Brocade VCS Fabric technology, embedded in every Brocade VDX switch, is one result of our extensive experience and leadership with Fibre Channel SAN fabrics. We know what works. We know what features will make your life easier today and enhance your network’s value as you transition to the New IP.

Brocade provided additional features that other vendors did not. Brocade data center switches can form a single fabric whereby you can add more switches and ports, and still have everything act like a single switch.

Rolf Koski, IT Infrastructure Manager at Cybercom

It starts with building your fabric. Brocade VCS Fabric technology lets you evolve at your own pace. Start with any Brocade VDX switch and use it as you would any Layer 2 or Layer 3 switch in your data center. When you’re ready to create your fabric, add one or more switches from the Brocade VDX family. Then simply launch your fabric. All of your Brocade VDX switches will automatically configure themselves and remain compatible with the rest of your infrastructure. We call it zero-touch provisioning. Even better, once you enable Brocade VCS Fabric technology, the Brocade VDX switch value curve accelerates. 

Unnecessary network complexity can stop a growing company in its tracks. That is why the simplicity of the Brocade Ethernet fabric was of key importance.

Tom Whitcomb, Chief Technical Officer, Ajubeo

Every Brocade VDX switch that you add to the network immediately becomes part of the fabric. With automatic provisioning, power and a network connection are all you need. VCS Fabric technology sees the entire fabric as a single switch, giving you one management touchpoint for network-wide control. So you can manage a few switches or several hundred with the same ease.

And since every VDX switch and port knows about every other switch and port in the fabric, there is no single point of failure, and you can easily move workloads with their associated characteristics. If a port is lost, the workload is moved to an available port. Without downtime. “Even if several connections between the switches drop out, IT operation will never be affected. Our aim, maximum stability within the Fabric, is now achieved.” – Michael Ankelin, Head of Competence Center Network Operations and Network Security Akquinet AG. It’s a self-forming, self-healing network, with optimized performance because all paths are equal and available through load-balanced multipathing. You can even mix Brocade VDX devices of different capacity and design. The fabric takes the most efficient path, automatically enabling you to optimize and maximize the flow of traffic. You don’t have to compromise scale or latency when you add nodes. 

Another VCS Fabric technology feature that is especially important in the highly virtualized environment of the New IP is the gateway between the physical underlay and virtual overlay networks. Because Brocade VCS Fabric technology is VM-aware, it looks into the hypervisor, detects the presence of new VMs, extracts the network profile information, and automatically applies it to every switch in the fabric. And when you move a VM from server to server, the fabric automatically migrates its profile information as well—completely eliminating the need for labor-intensive and time-delaying manual port profile updates and maintaining visibility as traffic moves from a VM, across a physical infrastructure, to a physical endpoint. That visibility between the underlay and overlay networks is provided by our VCS Gateway for VMware NSX, which simplifies troubleshooting and adds even more value to the fabric implementation.

What’s next

Self-forming for simple, real-time scaling. Centrally managed for efficient operation. And integral to your switches, so no additional equipment is required. Brocade VCS fabrics just work. And with the flexibility to support IPv6 and critical New IP standards such as OpenFlow, REST APIs, Puppet, and  Python, your Brocade VCS fabric will continue adding value to your network and your business for years to come.


Brocade products turn Possibilities into realities. Through industry transition and technology evolution. For large and small businesses, service providers, and the public sector. Our proven data and storage network fabrics, state-of-the-art virtual devices, management tools, and open approach are ready to support your success.

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