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Brocade buys data center expertise

Brocade today said it intends to buy private professional services firm Strategic Business Systems, Inc. (SBS) today, a reflection of how services have become a big piece of large storage implementations.

According to Rob Buergisser, Brocade’s director of operations for service, support and solutions, about 80 percent of the type of services that SBS provides are similar to those Brocade already offers, such as storage assessment, disaster recovery and data migration. But it’s the other 20 percent that were key to the deal: SBS’s data center virtualization and network design and optimization.

These services are crucial if Brocade is to become more than a Fibre Channel fabric vendor and provide all the pieces required for its vision of the next-generation data center.

Data center virtualization got hot with the rise of VMware in recent years. As Buergisser says, “Backup and recovery is a high growth area for Brocade, and server virtualization fits into that. When you virtualize servers, that changes a lot of things in the data center.”

But the IP networking services SBS brings could be the most important part of the acquisition. Brocade needs Ethernet expertise if it is to compete with Cisco when converged networks take over the data center. It also needs Ethernet technology. I expect Brocade’s next big acquisition to be an Ethernet switching vendor (perhaps Woven Systems or Force 10 Networks) to fill in the gap in its next-gen data center architecture. For now, it will pump up Ethernet services with SBS. “They bring a lot of IP stuff,” Buergisser said, and IP stuff is something Cisco has plenty of and Brocade needs.

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