FOS 8.2.0 – The first Broadcom FOS release.

With the transition to Broadcom the Brocade entity now operating under that flag has release it’s first major release 8.2.0.

The release notes show a somewhat strange title: “Fabric OS v8.2.0 for Brocade SAN Product Family“. As if FOS ever was intended to run on any other platform than SAN switches ?!?!?!… Weird..

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Brocade, Storage Networking , , ,

Brocade is no more

Exactly 20 years ago I installed my first Fibre Channel switch. It was from a startup company founded by Kumar Malavalli, Paul Bonderson and Seth Neiman who wanted to dive into the storage networking business based on a protocol developed by one of my long term mentors and the god-father of Fibre-Channel Horst Truestedt together with a bunch of highly skilled engineers.

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Brocade, General Info ,

Brocade Network Advisor vulnerable to SWEET32

OK, OK, don’t panic. In 99.999% of all cases you’re BNA management system is well dug deep inside the datacenter’s behind a fair few layers of firewalls, switch ACL’s and other physical or non-physical borders so bad dudes being able to exploit the vulnerability is relatively unlikely. Just in the event you still want to prevent  from even being remotely possible here is a procedure to remove the underlying issue as well as being able to remove some older, less-secure, protocols.

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Brocade Technical, Troubleshooting , , , ,

Hitachi Va….. what???

VANTARA. Hitachi Vantara. Yes, took me a while to get used to it as well after almost 15 years at HDS but I must say reading all the internal and external communications and overall business and technical transformation gets me more excited by the day.

HDS, Pentaho and Hitachi Insight Group are combined into a new company focussing on IoT, Analytics and helping customers obtain the maximum use and benefit out of their operational technologies via bullet proof IT from HDS.

Two months ago I had solar panels installed. Living in the Australian Sunshine Coast Hinterland I thought I’d let the name and location do some work for me and as a positive side-effect bring my power bills down as well. In addition to that I’ll prevent a few tonnes of CO2 emissions by not having the power companies burn black rock. The challenge is however to make the best use out of the solar installation. As I did not opt for a battery installation (simply too much money and the ROI makes it currently not worth it) the panels deliver between 4 and 5KWh on average depending on a few factors like cloud overcast, angle of the sun, shade of trees etc. Read more »

General Info, Linux , , , ,

Data Corruption in Storage Area Networks

If there is one thing that gets people relatively annoyed is that their data is not available for a certain amount of time. You can’t get to your sales data, orders cannot be fulfilled, your tracking and tracing options for your goods on their way to your customers does not show up etc. That makes you really crunching your teeth whilst waiting for this stuff to come back. Take that feeling into your head and extrapolate it to the point you start to realize this will not return, ever…….got it? That is when data-corruption has made its mark.

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Fibre Channel, Troubleshooting , , , ,

Host based mirroring kills your storage network!!

System administrators are very inventive and lazy. I know, I used to be one of them. 🙂 Everything that can be done to make ones life easier is about to be scripted, configured, designed etc.  If you are responsible for an overall environment from Apps to servers to networks and storage you can make very informed decisions on how you want to set up each different aspect of your environment. The last time I had this opportunity was back in 1995. Since then I have not come across an environment where a single person/team was responsible for each technology aspect of the infrastructure. As environments grow these teams grow as well. Business decisions like splits, acquisitions, outsourcing etc etc have enormous impacts not only on the business itself but also on people who are now forced to work with other people/teams who may have different mind-sets, processes and procedures and even completely different technologies. In many such instances strange things will happen and result in a very unpredictable behaviour of compute, network and storage systems. Below I’ll give you such an example where decisions from a systems-level perspective results in massive problems on a storage network.

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Brocade Technical, Config Guide, Storage Networking, Troubleshooting , , , , , , , , ,

Bro(ad)c(a|o)(de|m) – Brocade to Broadcom What’s next?

A relatively simple regular expression is all that needed to change all marketing material and documentation but the consequences for customers are significant. In the short term everything will be business as usual. The product portfolio currently designed, manufactured, sold and supported by Brocade will be heavily scrutinized. Broadcom has already mentioned that the entire IP networking portfolio will be sold and that mainly the SAN business will be kept.

This basically means that all previous Foundry customers who have invested heavily in the ICX, MLX and SLX equipment as well as current VDX owners will soon get a letter (or tweet, depending how it is handled) showing that their equipment will be maintained by another party. When looking at this from a business perspective I can’t see anything wrong with this as Broadcom has a huge OEM base and the current Brocade IP will most likely land with one of these companies. The one who is able to purchase that business is seriously well equipped with a huge knowledge and engineering asset with great gains for their current and new portfolio.

So why does Broadcom wants to buy Brocade? To me first and foremost this seems to be a money deal with the only thing wanted by Broadcom is getting a direct foothold in the large datacentres where Brocade primarily operates. As Avago bought Emulex a few months ago it seems Broadcom want to expand their business to other market segments via the SAN technology to level the playing field from a competitive view. I wouldn’t be surprised if an anouncement is made by Broadcom and Qlogic for a similar merger.

But the SAN business is declining” you might argue. Well, yes and no. Ethernet and IP storage networking still don’t cut it in the real storage world. I know, I get a huge amount of issues on my plate relating to to IP storage and FCoE which all suddenly seem to disappear when the same equipment is hooked up to FC interconnects so from a reliability point of view FC will be around for quite a while.

Secondly Broadcom has a vast OEM base which have likely “requested” (to put it mildly) that extending the portfolio on which they can build is a requirement for growth. One of the pathways is obviously storage networking. Competition is fierce in the ethernet world and new differentiation options need to be created in order to compete in this world.

One example is that there is a huge amount of engineering smarts in Brocade’s FC ASICS’s (Condor 1/2/3/4). It is very likely that Broadcom wants to create some sort of hybrid ASIC capable of doing both Ethernet as well as direct FC both on the switching side as well as the adapter side. The consolidation customers will then be able to achieve is vastly more compelling than using complex protocols like FCoE or relatively “slow” protocols like TCPIP.

Hooking up an adapter identifying itself to a switch as being a NIC which then triggers the switch to act as an Ethernet entity or the adapter acting as an HBA then flipping the switch to “talk” Fibre-Channel is obviously far more beneficial from an administrative and OPEX point of view than fooling around with creating complex configurations prone to errors like CEE maps and setting ETS and PFC QoS policies. The quantities of scale therefore make it easier to mass produce such equipment which inevitably brings down costs significantly. This is a real game-changer of which Broadcom now holds the key to the kingdom. It is up to them to play it smart and disrupt the current status quo massively.


I’ve invested a significant portion of my time and efforts of becoming a Brocade Distinguished Architect. (One of just around 200 in the world). Brocade just recently released an updated certification track with new courses, updated exams and a few adjustments in their overall curriculum. It seems these efforts have been in vain as 50% of the tracks are related to Ethernet/IP based tracks which will be no longer valid. I’m not saying these are not useful to have as these do require you to have a fair amount of knowledge around these protocol technologies but the part specifically related to the equipment is no longer a Brocade based asset.

Here’s the unsettling part: Broadcom does not have a certification program so as soon as BRCD as a ticker symbol ceases to exist so will the value of your certification.

I am very interested to see how this pans out. Personally I’m a bit sad to see another great company from whom I learned so much fall apart into a cut-up piece of meat as has happened with so many other great companies with a technological heart. (Tandem, DEC, Compaq, SUN, McData etc.) It seems money always talks the talk where tech requires to walk the walk.

Thank you Brocade for all the support and great technology you’ve given me over the last 20 years. I’ve made many Brocade friends all over the world whilst working with their products and technologies and I hope they will all find a good spot to land whether this is at Broadcom or somewhere else.


Brocade , ,

Why frames get dropped at your storage array

Arrays from all vendors have significant troubleshooting capabilities but in most cases these are scambled in the most obscure way you can imagine. You need special tools to be able to have a look at the log-dumps that come out of these systems. The nice part is that they contain a wealth of information including what is going on at the FC layer.

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Config Guide, Fibre Channel, Troubleshooting , ,

Ficon Dynamic Routing (FIDR)

In the storage world there mainly have been two environments : 1 FCP and 2. SBCC which stands for Fibre Channel – Protocol and Single Byte Command Code Set.

read on

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Storage Networking , , , ,

Brocade FOS version 8 and 32G hardware

If you’ve been laying low during Christmas last year and have overlooked that Brocade announced its first to market with “Gen 6” (32G) hardware and FOS code 8, you’re forgiven. FOS 8 was mainly released to support the new G620 hardware but a lot of functions and features did either not work or were not supported yet. FOS 8 also dropped support for a lot of hardware which is a good thing IMHO. 8G equipment like the DCX4S, DCX as well as the single unit switches like the 5100 and 5300 were dropped.

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