Brocade vs. Cisco: Fibre Channel Showdown

Park Place Hardware Maintenance

Parker January 01, 2022

Brocade DCX vs Cisco MDS 9509

The Brocade DCX is a powerful, enterprise-class director. The Cisco MDS 9509 offers similar technology. Both deliver reliable, high quality switching infrastructure. It’s for you to decide which director can best meet your requirements.

The Brocade DCX and Cisco MDS 9509 are dependable SAN directors that bring high reliability to your switching infrastructure. SAN directors provide continuity of operation, ensuring that whenever a blade fails it can be replaced without downtime. Both Cisco and Brocade are just about equally reliable.

The Brocade DCX scales up to 384 ports making it a good choice for large enterprises. The Brocade director will hold up to eight blades and supports both Fibre Channel technology and Fibre Channel over IP. The Cisco MDS 9509 provides nine blade slots and scales up to 336 Fibre Channel ports – highly capable of supporting challenging growth rates. The two are on par in terms of this functionality.

A local switching option reduces latency in the Brocade DCX Backbone. This latency reduction affects devices connected to the same blade. Because there’s no such option in Cisco MDS 9509, Brocade has an advantage.

While DCX and MDS directors provide powerful switching infrastructure capable of handling hard working storage environments, it might be noted that Cisco MDS is somewhat slower offering an unremarkable 96 Gbps throughput per port. In comparison, the DCX backbone provides 256 Gbps throughput per port, making it one of the speediest switching infrastructures available.

Many Similarities Make Choosing More Focused

Brocade and Cisco Systems own nearly almost all of the Fibre Channel (FC) director switch market. Because Brocade DCX Backbone and Cisco MDS 9500 have so many similarities, including pricing, you should focus on finding the best fitting platform for your infrastructure. Is your company’s roadmap more compatible with Brocade or Cisco?

Cisco and Brocade platforms both support storage-area networks with comparable functionality. They’re also compatible with all the necessary storage network protocols. It’s common to hear from both sides that less SAN architecting is required. However, each possesses idiosyncratic implementation constraints that should be carefully weighed by a SAN designer.

Design focus for Cisco MDS 9500 will undoubtedly consider management of traffic prioritization and oversubscription. SAN architects working on the DCX Backbone are more likely to engage in handling latency variances between ports in the same chassis.

The key question is, which best suits your enterprise network now and over the next 10 years?


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About the Author

Parker, Park Place Assistant