Don’t Be Overly Enthusiastic about Vendor Claims (This Time It's Brocade)

I was running the first part of the Data Center Fabrics Update webinar last week, mentioned that Brocade VDX 6740 supports Flex ports (a port you can use as Fibre Channel or 10GE port), and someone immediately wrote a comment saying “so does VDX 6940”. I was almost sure Flex ports aren’t available on VDX 6940 yet, and as always turned to vendor documentation to figure it out.

As expected, the data sheet is a bit vague, somewhat reflecting reality, but also veering into the realm of futures instead of features. Here’s what they say:

The Brocade VDX 6940 is hardware-enabled to support Fibre Channel.

So far so good.

It is also software dependent and that software support will come in a future release.

Fair. It’s not available yet.

The Brocade VDX 6940 features 32 Flex Ports, which can take either a 10 GbE or 40 GbE Fibre Channel personality.

Are we talking about hardware features or software futures here?

In Fibre Channel mode, these Flex Ports can be used either to directly connect Fibre Channel storage to VCS fabrics, or to bridge FCoE traffic to Fibre Channel SANs, thus protecting existing SAN investments.

Already using the marketing grammar (marketing people have this particular problem with the concept of present versus future tense).

The Flex Ports and FCoE features on the Brocade VDX 6940 can be turned on with an add-on software license.

Same thing. How will an add-on software license turn on a feature that’s not supported in software… or maybe they’re talking about NOS upgrade here?

To set the record straight, the Features Supported in Network OS 6.0.0 document is very clear: FlexPorts are supported on VDX 6740 in NOS release 5.0.0, on VDX 6740T in NOS release 6.0.0, and there’s no support for FlexPorts on VDX 6940 yet.

More Futures?

The VDX 6940 data sheet also mentions support for OpenFlow 1.3, Puppet agent on the switch, and Python scripting on the switch. None of these are mentioned anywhere in the Features Supported in Network OS 6.0.0 document. Did they forget to mention them or are they another example of marketing grammar? Comments and clarifications highly appreciated!

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  1. Very stressful. On top of that, when you contact the vendor directly (I'm being general here, not just Brocade), you usually have the first sales person pass it on to the second, maybe a third, because they're not sure themselves.
    That takes time and gives a bad impression because a simple quote for a list of requirements can take weeks or more.
    Vendors should really work on this. Customers can live with the fact that a certain functionality is not available (yet) or costs more. But being unclear just gets on everyone's nerves.
  2. The same Story @HP:
    - HP 5930: hardware NVGRE support...?
    - HP 7900: EVI support...?
    - VSR1000: EVI support...?
    well perhaps some time in a near future
  3. I've seen companies pull out perfectly good network running MLXs because of marketing / sales bluff convinced them to upgrade to VDX (imo downgrade). The MLX code is more mature and marketing convincing people to pull out their MLX and replace them with VDX is bogus.
    On a side note I upgraded NOS from 3.0.1 to 5.0.1c and my 6740 kept rebooting randomly during spikes. Not doing any layer3 just layer2 and it would crash!!!!
    Went down to 4.1.3b and is stable again. I would wait to upgrade to 6.0.
  4. My understanding is that Openflow 1.3 support in available in the first patch release (6.0.1?) due at the end of the month.

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