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Brocade bags IBM deal for Foundry switches

IBM today confirmed one of the worst kept secrets in IT – it will begin rebranding Brocade’s Foundry Ethernet switches under an OEM arrangement next month.

The move is seen as IBM retaliation against Cisco, the Ethernet switch market leader that recently launched a move onto IBM’s turf with its Unifed Computing System (UCS) server. IBM will continue to sell Cisco Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches, but adding Foundry gear intensifies the rivalry between Brocade and Cisco. Brocade acquired Foundry late last year for $2.6 billion to add Ethernet to its Fibre Channel product platform.

“This is not a resale relationship,” Brocade CTO Dave Stevens said. “This is a move by IBM to take our products, test our products, label our products, and sell them as IBM products.”

IBM will sell the Brocade NetIron MLX Series as IBM m-series Ethernet routers, and three families of Ethernet switches: the Brocade NetIron CES 2000 (IBM c-series), Brocade FastIron SX (IBM s-series), and Brocade FastIron GS (IBM g-series).

Jim Comfort, IBM VP of enterprise initiatives, said IBM will OEM more Foundry products down the road but not its entire portfolio. IBM will also add Brocade FCoE gear, although Comfort says IBM won’t favor any one vendor.

“Brocade has an FCoE strategy, which it was developing on its own before Foundry,” he said. “We’re working with Cisco, Brocade, Juniper and others to make sure those [FCoE and enhanced Ethernet] standards are in fact standards. As the standard stabilizes, we’ll bring forth whoever’s products are consistent with those standards.”

With its IBM deal sealed, Brocade is talking to Hewlett-Packard, the other major vendor that Cisco irked by getting into the server business. HP has its own line of ProCurve Ethernet switches, but Stevens says there are Foundry products that do not directly compete with ProCurve.

“If you take ProCurve and take our Ethernet portfolio, there are some areas of overlap but there are other areas with no overlap,” Stevens said.

Products that don’t overlap also include the FCoE switch and converged network adapters (CNAs) Brocade launched earlier this month.

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