Sean Michael Kerner, a senior editor at eWeek and contributor to TechWeek, says: HyperEdge Switching Fabric

Brocade has developed a new ICX 7250 switch as well as a new switch port extender. The new hardware releases are being updated with expanded support for the OpenFlow protocol, which Brocade still sees as being important for Software Defined Networking (SDN).

The ICX 7250 will be available in both 24 and 48 port editions that support 10/100/1000 Mbps. The ICX 7250-24 has a switching capacity of 208 Gbps, while the ICX 7250-48 provides up to 256 Gbps of switching capacity. Both switches are also available with PoE+ (Power over Ethernet) ports.

“The ICX 7250 Switch is being added to the Brocade Campus portfolio to round out the ICX 7xxx family of switches, complementing the mid-range ICX 7450 access switch and high-end ICX 7750 aggregation/core switch,” Siva Valliappan, VP of Product Management at Brocade, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “No Brocade switches will be retired in the near term as a result of this introduction.”

Valliappan explained that Brocade’s new switch port extender is a software technology that will be added to the ICX 7750, ICX 7450 and ICX 7250 switches starting later this year.

“Switch Port Extender allows one or more ICX 7750 switches to function as a controller to manage ICX 7450 or ICX 7250 switches,” Valliappan explained. “The switches connected this way function as a single distributed chassis with shared network services, simplifying management.”

The ICX fits into Brocade’s HyperEdge architectural approach, first announced in 2012. HyperEdge provides a mix-and-match approach that enables entry-level switches to benefit from the features in premium switches in the same HyperEdge domain.

As part of the ICX 7250 launch, Brocade is also updating its switch firmware operating system.

“This launch includes the release of FastIron Version 8.0.30 network operating system for Brocade Campus switches,” Valliappan said. “This release includes support for the new ICX 7250 Switch, plus numerous enhancements for other switches, including OpenFlow 1.3 on the ICX 7750 and ICX 7450.”

Brocade has been a big backer of the OpenDaylight project, which is building an open-source SDN control plane. Even with OpenDaylight, however, there is still a need for the OpenFlow protocol.

“OpenFlow is the software code that runs on the switches to interpret commands from an OpenDaylight controller and directs data flows on the switch,” Valliappan said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.