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Brocade bounces back in Fibre Channel switch market

Brocade finally picked up revenue share in the Fibre Channel switch market against Cisco last quarter, according to the latest Dell'Oro quarterly market research report. Dell'Oro attributed the uptick to the fact that Brocade is now qualifying its newest 8 Gbps Fibre Channel director with storage vendors and customers.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. ended its market share losing streak of four quarters in the Fibre Channel...

switch market by picking up revenue share against Cisco last quarter, according to the latest Dell'Oro Group market research report.

According to the Dell'Oro report, Brocade had 66.8% of the revenue share in the Fibre Channel switch market in the third quarter of this year, up from 65.5% in the second quarter. Rival Cisco Systems Inc. declined in revenue share from 30% to 29.2%. Cisco did gain port count share, but Brocade apparently gained in the crucial director switch category.

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"This is significant," said Tam Dell'Oro, president and founder of Dell'Oro Group. "Ever since Brocade made the announcement that they were going to acquire McData, they've lost share. This is the first quarter they've been up."

Brocade qualifying 8 Gbps Fibre Channel director

Dell'Oro attributed the uptick to the fact that Brocade is now qualifying its newest 8 Gbps Fibre Channel director with storage vendors and its customers. "It's not about being first to market with a new technology -- having the product erases the uncertainty that competitors had been able to use to their advantage," Dell'Oro said. "Customers can now see the product, kick the tires and see how they can continue to expand their environments. There's no more room for questions about whether or not the old stuff will work with the new stuff."

Brocade director of product marketing Mario Blandini attributed Brocade's reversal to a combination of delivering in the third quarter native interoperability between its switches and McData's products, as well as announcing a timeline for delivering a new backbone director, which it expects to begin shipping in the first quarter. "Customers naturally wanted to see us execute against our commitments," Blandini said. "Now they can be confident in continuing to build out their data centers."

While Brocade has stopped the bleeding for now, one quarter of slight gain hardly means it will win the long-term battle with Cisco. While its revenue share was down slightly, Cisco's share of port shipments rose from 20.6% to 22.6% of the market, while Brocade's slipped from 71.3% to 65.5%.

"Cisco has launched new products at a lower price point and gotten some traction," Dell'Oro said. But Cisco's traditional strength has been in director switches where it primarily battled McData, while Brocade dominated the market for smaller switches. Since Brocade acquired McData at the start of this year, it has competed with Cisco for former McData customers.

A Cisco spokesperson said the company is unconcerned with the new research. "It's standard operating procedure not to comment on our competitors directly, but we're not all that worried by the Dell'Oro report," the spokesperson said. "We've gained in the fixed switch category, and we have had a lot of traction in the high end of the market."

Both companies are subscribers to Dell'Oro reports.

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