Next Step for Brocade and Foundry: Integration

Arthur Cole

Looking into the new year, most eyes are focused on big-picture issues like the emergence of cloud computing and the expansion of virtualization beyond the server.

 

But on a more practical level, I think one of the interesting stories of 2009 will be how well Brocade Communications will integrate its SAN technology with the wider networking platforms of Foundry Networks.

 

Brocade finalized the $2.6 billion acquisition of Foundry earlier this month, somewhat less than the originally estimated price of $3 billion when the merger plans were announced last summer, before the financial crisis.

 

Brocade has made no secret of the fact that it intends to take on Cisco for the broader enterprise networking space, but exactly how it intends to do that is still either a closely guarded secret or has not yet been fully worked out. The latest word on the merger from Brocade CEO Mike Klayko is this videocast on datacenterknowledge.com. But if you're looking for any real insight, you're bound to be disappointed, unless you're in need of pointers on how to answer a question without really saying anything.

 

Still, there's plenty of outside opinion as to what should and should not happen. Chris Mellor at The Channel Register says Brocade would be wise to flesh out its HBA/converged network adapter strategy through the DCX platform and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. The company's SAN intelligence could very easily be ported onto virtual switching technology for VMware or Hyper-V environments, providing a single networking pipe that can be dynamically allocated to multiple users.


 

He notes that, so far, Cisco has shown no interest in bringing its MDS storage switching system to its Ethernet line.

 

Storage consultant Stephen Foskett, the "Pack Rat," sees the merger as a bid to corner the market for 10 GbE and beyond. But he thinks it's a mistake to think of it as an exclusive struggle between Cisco and Brocade. Also vying for a seat at the table are Woven Systems, Force10, Arista Networks and HP. No matter who wins, though, he says it's a safe bet that 10 GbE will dominate enterprise networking for the foreseeable future.

 

Even though technology seems to march to its own drummer, the fact is that success or failure often depends on the decisions made in the front office. Brocade says the merger of two leading technologies will cause customers to come running. That may be true, but only if it can produce results that are both compelling and cost-effective.



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Jan 4, 2009 1:41 AM Wilson Craig Wilson Craig  says:
Arthur:Many thanks for the time and space dedicated to Brocade and the important issues and opportunities that the company will address in the new year. Please note that the original placement of this video and videos with commentary from Marc Randall, the new Brocade vice president of products and offerings and Dave Stevens, newly named Brocade CTO, are available here: http://www.youtube.com/brocadevideo . Additional videos will be posted here in the future. This video was shot the day prior to and posted on the day that the deal closed, which necessitates a high-level view from the CEO, as opposed to deep detail on integration plans. To say that Mike is not "really saying anything" here is interesting, and admittedly accurate, from a certain perspective. It is especially interesting, though, when viewed with an eye to the potential use of this type of medium ongoing. Completely respectfully, and understanding the question that follows could be taken the wrong way, would you rather hear directly, albeit with a high-level view, from CEOs as news happens or have their PR departments revert to the cookie-cutter, pre-approved, overly-sanitized and (almost always in my experience at a wide variety of companies) ghost-written "quotes" that are usually supplied to represent the executive perspective when acquisitions close and similar events occur. Ultimately, given the legal constraints that corporations face with regard to discussion and planning prior to acquisition closings, earnings, etc. how can we (the corporations, the media and the readers, as a "social media community") make this medium (video) and this type of access (immediate, direct, unscripted and largely unedited) more valuable? Note that this video was shot in 15 mins at no cost by Brocade PR, edited in Windows Movie Maker (freeware) and posted to YouTube, again at no cost. I take your points fully, and please don't take this as being defensive or trite. I just see this post as a great launching point for a deeper discussion on social media, its use and, hopefully, further realization of its potential. Best regards, Wilson Craig Director, Brocade Public Relations Reply

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