Brocade has unveiled its first Ethernet fabric products with support for software-defined networking (SDN) – a market that is set to reach $2 billion by 2016, according to analyst firm IDC.

The company's new VDX 8770 switch is designed for enterprises and service providers that want to both simplify and scale-out their data centre infrastructure, in order to accelerate the introduction of new services.

The switch allows users to expand a single fabric up to 8,000 switch ports with up to 384,000 VMs attached to the fabric, and also delivers low port-to-port latency at 3.5 microseconds across all 1GbE, 10GbE and 40GbE ports.

With a 4Tbps backplane, the VDX 8770 chassis will be able to support future technologies such as dense 100GbE, and is also engineered for emerging SDN architectures, with flexible hardware support for network virtualisation.

Brocade also introduced a new 24-port 10GbE module for its MLXe Series routers, which offers the ability to scale up to 768 ports of 10GbE in a single chassis.

Based on Brocade MaxScale-160 Packet Processor technology with fourth-generation silicon innovation, the new module triples existing 10GbE density and is purpose-built for high-capacity, high-performance data centre core and service provider networks.

The 10 GbE MLXe solutions integrates with existing networks to enable SDN in conjunction with traditional networking capabilities.

“The catalyst for fabrics is software-defined networking,” said Marcus Jewell, UK Country Manager for Brocade. “SDN has been in discussion for a number of years, and clearly Oracle acquiring Xsigo has cemented the fact that the market is now ready to really start to capitalise.”

Jewell said that SDN is the real seed change in the market that will make the adoption of fabrics far quicker. He said that the demand that virtualisation is putting on data centre networks means that traffic now needs to move “east to west” as much as they need to move “north to south”.

“That's where the inherent support comes from, so you end up with a much simpler and a much quicker deployment using a fabric technology than you do in a classic hierarchical design,” he said.

Increased demand from end users for high-bandwidth and low-latency applications is also forcing service providers to invest in high capacity networking infrastructure, and the consumerisation trend is driving complexity and user requests onto the network.

Brocade supports SDN through both the OpenFlow and OpenStack standards. Its third generation Ethernet fabric products will go up against Cisco's Nexus 7000 and Juniper's Q-Fabric products in the market, but out-performs both in terms of density, speed and functionality, according to Jewell.

The company currently has around 700 customers using its Ethernet fabric products in live environments. The VDX 8770 is already in 20 live production clients and available to order from today.