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Virtual Fabrics

Brocade Virtual Fabrics allow IT organizations to manage IT assets by corporate function, utilize different permission levels for SAN administrators, and maintain required levels of data and fault isolation without increasing cost and complexity. In addition, Virtual Fabrics can reduce hardware costs by optimizing resource utilization.

The Virtual Fabrics feature augments the proven security and fault isolation features of Brocade Fabric OS (FOS), enabling organizations to create logical groups of separately managed devices, ports, and switches within a physical SAN. Virtual Fabrics configuration is straightforward and does not require additional licenses.

With the release of FOS 6.2, organizations can utilize an ANSI standard-based implementation of Virtual Fabrics. The Virtual Fabrics feature includes two new capabilities: Logical Switches and Logical Fabrics, both available in the base FOS firmware.

As shown in Figure 1, physical switches can be partitioned into independently managed Logical Switches each with their own data, control, and management paths. In addition, they can be configured in any mode, including McDATA Fabric or McDATA Open Fabric modes. Logical Switches can allocate fabric resources “by the port” rather than by the switch. They also provide a way to simplify charge-back for storage by customer, department, or application while cost-effectively consolidating SAN resources. Because Logical Switches do not need to be enabled on every switch in a SAN, deployment is simple and non-disruptive in existing environments.

Brocade Virtual Fabrics

Layer-2 traffic isolation is available with a special eXtended ISL (XISL) shared by multiple Logical Fabrics, or with dedicated ISL connections between Logical Switches in the same Logical Fabric. Both ISL and XISL connections can use front ports or Inter-Chassis Link (ICL) connections with frame trunking and Dynamic Path Selection (DPS) for full bandwidth utilization. The Logical Fabrics capability supports Integrated Routing at Layer 3. Routing connections attach an integrated backbone fabric to multiple edge fabrics. Zoning allows traffic to flow between specific devices in any edge fabric.

Virtual Fabrics is available on 8 Gbit/sec products that are "Virtual Fabrics-capable" such as the Brocade DCX Backbone, Brocade DCX-4S Backbone, and the Brocade 5300 and Brocade 5100 switches. For investment protection, products that aren't Virtual Fabrics-capable (such as earlier 2 and 4 Gbit/sec FOS and M-EOS products) can seamlessly connect to Virtual Fabrics-capable products without requiring a reconfiguration of the existing switches.

To simplify Virtual Fabrics management, organizations can use Brocade DCFM. After they are created, Logical Switches and fabrics are managed the same as their physical counterparts. Alternatively, organizations can use the standard FOS CLI to enter or script configuration and management operations for Virtual Fabrics.

The Virtual Fabrics feature is easy to set up and simple to manage for "port-level" partitioning of physical switches into independent Logical Switches. It does not reduce fabric or chassis scalability, preserving ROI and seamlessly supporting advanced FOS features such as frame trunking, DPS, Fibre Channel Routing, Adaptive Networking, Top Talkers, Access Gateway, Access Gateway trunking, and FCIP for extension.

Industry Standards Compliance
Brocade products conform to industry standards in a manner consistent with accepted engineering practices and procedures.

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Virtual Fabrics Resources

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The results of a benchmarking study performed in Brocade test labs demonstrate that SQL Server can be deployed on VMware ESX Server 3.5 for Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) applications in very favorable server consolidation ratios to meet corporate IT business requirements.


Describes a FOS 6.2 capability: Virtual Fabrics (VFs). Using VFs, customers can partition a physical switch into multiple Logical Switches, each of which belongs to a Logical Fabric, which has independent data paths, fabric configuration (zoning, Quality of Service, fabric mode) ,and management.