Brocade touts open standards with CloudPlex rollout

Barbara Spicek video

Brocade channel chief Barbara Spicek

Channel partners are better off selling an open “stack” of cloud technologies than a pre-integrated stack from a single vendor or a single group of vendors.

That’s the argument Brocade is making to its partners with the launch of CloudPlex, its vision for distributed, virtualized cloud-based data centres.

In announcing CloudPlex, the company is putting up a dramatic philosophical difference, mostly to Cisco and its tri-partie VCE alliance with Vmware and EMC, but also to other cloud competitors, including HP and its Converged Architecture strategy.

Dave Stevens, CTO at Brocade, introduced CloudPlex at last week’s Brocade Technology Day Summit event at its San Jose, Calif. headquarters, and said it was based on the company’s experience architecting its own data centres.

“CloudPlex is something we’ve had in-house for almost three years,” Stevens said.

The CloudPlex structure builds on Brocade’s success as an early player in the field of Ethernet fabrics, and indeed, the first step to get there is to further the performance of its fabric offerings.  Stevens offered up a five-step roadmap to realizing the potential of CloudPlex, starting with turning up the volume on the performance of its fabrics; then moving on to tools for scalability and control of the data centre; and then fostering seamless cloud-to-cloud connectivity; then adding transparent administration and control; and finally adding native multi-tenancy. He also outlined a number of products that will make up Brocade’s part of the effort to get there, highlighted by switch chassis that support a much greater port density and greater port speed, as well as the ability to map an entire data centre to a single WAN connection on the edge of the data centre.

Stevens suggested the problem of distributed and cloud environments is that they require “by their nature, open solutions.”

“It’s too big of a problem for a single vendor to solve,” he said of rivals’ pre-integrated, single-vendor approaches. “There are very few instances where a vertically-integrated stack was successful over a long period of time.”

He claimed that Brocade and its partners would be able to offer benefits including better compute performance, more RAM per virtual machine, more resiliency, better throughput and a 50 per cent cost reduction by doing a Brocade/VMware/Dell compute stack, as opposed to the rival VCE solution. caught up with Brocade’s worldwide channel chief, Barbara Spicek, to discuss CloudPlex and what it means to the company’s channel partners to have an open data centre block approach. Catch her thoughts in the video below.


Products supporting the CloudPlex vision are slated to roll out over the course of the year and beyond – and there are still some questions as to how different CloudPlex will be from pre-integrated data centre stacks from Brocade’s rivals. For example, the company pre-announced its first two partnerships – creating one pre-integrated stack with Dell, and another with Fujitsu.

Spicek said she expects to see both of those organizations work with their respective partners to bring CloudPlex to market, although with Fujitsu, the focus will primarily be on Europe.

Still, while those are the first partnerships out the door, Spicek said she expects to see more, and said Brocade was willing to work with partners to develop reference architectures for CloudPlex, “whether it’s HP, IBM, Dell or any other Intel server.”

“We want to design the right virtual compute block for [the customer,]” Spicek said. “We’re open.”

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