Brocade expands professional services for VMware shops

Brocade introduces data center virtualization services aimed at storage shops consolidating servers with VMware.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. is pushing professional services aimed at storage shops running VMware through an expansion and rebranding of services it gained through its acquisition of Strategic Business Systems Inc. (SBS) earlier this year.

SBS's practice for VMware customers was one of the main reasons Brocade acquired the company in March and expanded the SBS offerings with its own fabric-based services.

Brocade's Data Center Virtualization Services is a series of assessment, design and implementation services that help VMware customers consolidate servers and handle the way virtual servers change their storage area network (SAN), backup, security, migration and disaster recovery.

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"I haven't been in front of a customer that hasn't talked about server virtualization," said Matt Lindeman, senior manager of services for Brocade. "A lot of them have been looking at us saying 'Virtualization is a lot bigger than just the implementation, and you have to help us through it.'"

Gartner analyst Adam Couture said that server virtualization and storage services go hand-in-hand because of the complexity virtualization adds to storage. "Server virtualization requires a distinctly different approach to storage," he said. "You can't back up the same way, maybe you're booting blades from SAN, and you have to rearchitect your storage and reconsider the way you manage your storage."

Brocade certainly isn't the first vendor to offer professional services for virtualized server environments. Most of the large storage vendors and smaller companies, such as Glasshouse Technologies, already offer services. But Brocade is banking on its Fibre Channel fabric expertise as a differentiator.

"It's not that we're the only guys out there who do VMware implementations, but when you put it with what we do throughout the data center, we think it's a 'better-together' thing," Lindeman said.

Couture agreed that Brocade's fabric expertise adds to what SBS offered, and Brocade's size and standing in the SAN market are also advantages that SBS lacked. "Brocade understands the SAN fabric better than most, and that gives them a claim to fame here," he said. "And there's a comfort level in dealing with somebody you know will be around next week, and somebody who has experience in dealing with these types of products."

Brocade's services only cover VMware server virtualization.

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