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Ethernet Fabrics

Compared to classic hierarchical Ethernet architectures, Ethernet fabrics provide higher levels of performance, efficiency, availability, and operational simplicity to meet the business needs of virtualized data centers today and into the future.

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A truly virtualized data center is the foundation for cloud-based architectures and IT models. In turn, virtualized data centers require agile service delivery vehicles, including the ability to add network capacity with appropriate services on demand, and new levels of operational simplicity in infrastructure deployment, administration, and monitoring.

However, the underlying limitations in existing virtualization and system management tools—as well as the design of current network architectures—have often prevented organizations from meeting the performance, availability, security, and mobility requirements of cloud computing.

In order to simplify the management layer and bring the promise of virtualization to fruition, the underlying infrastructure—especially the network—must evolve. It must move from management of discrete physical devices and physical ports to flows (virtual server to virtual server or virtual server to virtual storage communication). It must be simpler to set up, operate, and scale. And it must be more flexible, highly resilient, and much more VM-aware.

Brocade is leading the industry effort in this area through the development of new, flatter Ethernet networks that are specifically designed for virtualized data center environments. This new category of "Ethernet fabrics" combines the familiarity of Ethernet networks with the data center-hardened reliability and performance characteristics of fabric technologies such as Fibre Channel. As the global leader in data center fabric innovation and deployment, Brocade has the technical expertise and 15 years of experience to deliver Ethernet fabric solutions that increase IT agility and deliver a fast ROI.

Brocade VCS Fabric technology, the industry's first Ethernet fabric technology, enables organizations to transition smoothly to elastic, cloud-optimized networks with unique features such as:

  • Advanced automation and multitenancy features
  • Logically centralized management
  • Efficient multipathing at Layers 1-3, with multiple Layer 3 gateways
  • Hypervisor-agnostic VM awareness
  • Support for SDN across the data, control, and management planes

Ethernet Fabric Technology Resources

Browse a complete listing of all Brocade resources. View All Resources


The Brocade IP Analytics Pack for vRealize Operations helps unite the best aspects of virtual and physical networking to enable SDDCs that deliver simplicity, scalability, and efficient resource utilization


Brocade and VMware's unified network provides seamless transition between the physical and virtual architecture.


Ethernet fabric architectures built on Brocade VCS Fabric technology simplifies network architecture and management and features for supporting future “software-defined” networks, as well as a cost-effective point of entry that enables the transition to mission-critical networks in cloud data centers.


SDN introduces new opportunities to centralize network services more rapidly, but also new forms of complexity. Brocade VCS Fabric technology provides unique automation capabilities and resilience in the physical fabric, as well as integration and hardware support for leading SDN solutions.


This paper shows how to apply a small set of software engineering metrics to measure the network administration complexity, effort, and time required to configure and maintain a classic Ethernet network (Cisco Nexus with vPCs) and an Ethernet fabric network (Brocade VCS Fabric technology).