Lenovo & Brocade: A One-two Punch to the Competition

GUEST BLOG BY MIKE EASTERLY, GLOBAL TECHNICAL PARTNERSHIP EXECUTIVE AT BROCADE

As we look at the “always-connected” enterprise, it’s clear that IT must evolve by leveraging technology that’s easier to deploy and manage, while providing flexibility and investment protection for the future. In the blade-server market, Lenovo is positioned to deliver with the unique networking capabilities of its Flex System Enterprise Chassis. The Flex System EN4023 switch was developed in conjunction with Brocade, and is part of Brocade’s VDX family of switches, designed with VCS Fabric technology.

The Flex System chassis with Brocade VCS provides three critical features that Dell, HP and others do not have. These key features are why a large Telco client in Asia recently decided to make a big Flex System purchase.

  1. Simplicity and scalability: During the initial Flex chassis deployments, this Asian Telco company liked the fact that, “It just works.”  The initial chassis was deployed in just a few steps with installation of each subsequent chassis just a matter of connecting the switches to the VCS Fabric. Much of the configuration was automated, saving the IT staff a significant amount of time. Today, the client has deployed up to 21 chassis and has the peace of mind knowing they can scale up to 24 chassis in a single cluster. That’s up to 336 compute nodes — 2-12 times what the competitors offered.  
  2. Flexibility: The client was also looking for ways to reduce cost. They decided to leverage the converged capabilities of the EN4023, which can handle LAN and SAN traffic in a single pair of redundant switch modules. Using a pair of EN4023 switches versus the alternative of two Ethernet switches and two Fibre Channel switches saved them money. They also reduced adapter costs on the compute node by using a converged network adapter instead of separate Ethernet and Fibre Channel adapters. Lastly, they really liked the Flex System’s port capabilities, which allowed them to simply plug in an Ethernet cable/transceiver or a Fibre Channel transceiver and it was automatically activated in either mode. Plus, they had the ability to adjust allocation of bandwidth between Fibre Channel and Ethernet over time as application performance dictated. 
  3. High availability: With the Flex System design, redundancy is built-in throughout.  From power and cooling to compute to management to networking, Flex is an extremely resilient architecture. By leveraging Brocade VCS’s Link State Tracking, providing protection from network failures due to upstream ports going down, the customer was able to further insulate their system from downtime.

It is important to keep in mind that the VCS Fabric capabilities provide advantages in addition to the three I just mentioned, which were key for the Asian Telco company. Clients have also found significant value with the VCS Fabric capabilities in virtualization and cloud-based environments.

  • Virtualization environments where clients want helping automatically aligning physical and virtual resources for services that rely on a virtual infrastructure. (Examples include automated migration of port profiles, plug-ins for VMware and the one of the only blade switches to support VXLAN.)
  • Cloud-based environments where workloads need to be deployed quickly and securely, while scaling simply on a per-tenant basis. (OpenStack and OpenFlow are two examples.)

Learn more about the Flex System EN4023 Scalable Switch and read the An Introduction to Brocade VCS Fabric Technology white paper.