Brocade sheds light on NuView plans

Brocade talked with SearchStorage at SNW about its integration plans for NuView, managing its OEM partners and its new direction beyond FC switches.

SAN DIEGO -- A sign in Brocade Communications Systems Inc.'s lobby proclaims "No guts, no glory, no fear," which a month after the company's acquisition of file storage management company NuView Inc., is firmly being put to the test.

Purchasing NuView for $60 million in March has seemingly put Brocade slap bang into competition with EMC Corp, its No.1 OEM partner, accounting for approximately 40% of its revenue according to Wall St. sources. EMC has been steadily beefing up its storage revenue through software acquisitions, and one of its more recent purchases, Rainfinity Inc., provides file virtualization capabilities similar to those of NuView.

Maxwell Riggsbee, chief technology officer of the rapidly expanding Tapestry product line at Brocade, which includes the NuView products, took some time at Storage Networking World to discuss its plans for integrating the new technology, how it is managing any overlap with OEM partners and where Brocade is headed.

The official line we received from EMC on your acquisition of NuView was that it plans to compete with you in this space with its Rainfinity product. That surely hurts your relationship?

Maxwell Riggsbee: The initial reaction [from EMC] was Brocade is stepping on our toes, but over time it gets sorted out. Namespace is one problem that's solved by NuView, but there are other products that are very complementary to EMC, like UNC Update and MyView. EMC doesn't have anything in those areas.

What are those products?

Riggsbee: MyView provides a centralized view of users' access and authorization to files and UNC Update simplifies the process of finding and fixing pathnames when moving files around in a Microsoft environment.

Has EMC expressed any interest in these products?

Riggsbee: It's too early to discuss that.

Not to flog a dead horse, but going back to EMC's current role as a key OEM partner of yours, what happens when they are at a customer site and this particular customer has a file management problem but also requires some switches. Is EMC really going to invite Brocade in on the switching side knowing that you could try to sell that customer the NuView products?

Riggsbee: None of our OEMs make the buying decision. Our job is to build the best product. Our confidence is this: If we build the best products, the customer will make the choice. We have to make sure that all our partners have access to all our products. But at the end of the day, we could be in a bake off with them and at that point our product has to stand on its own.

The idea is to think more of what we have in our collective portfolios to solve problems. We can provide enabling technologies for broader solutions that our OEMs could use.

At the same time, we are developing a channel for Tapestry which has over 20 partners today. It's not just the major OEMs. Different OEMs are rising.

How many direct sales people does Brocade have today?

Riggsbee: We're about 1,200 employees and about a fourth of those are in sales worldwide. We recently hired a VP [vice president] of professional services who is building a large team and will have a suite of offerings like SAN assessment and design, the ability to provide on-site engineers and data migration services.

In light of your new focus on storage management software, what kind of company is Brocade today?

Riggsbee: People have always thought of us as a connectivity company, now we are looking to extend that connectivity to provide services around the network to better manage applications and files, and the mobility of those things. Think of us as an enterprise storage management company.

Does that mean over time there will be less focus on building switches?

Riggsbee: No. Without our Silkworm product family there is no Tapestry. Everything begins with shared storage on the network. Then on top of that we add tools like Application Resource Manager that lets the network move applications to different hardware.

By that token, are you going to port all the NuView products to your switch?

Riggsbee: We're looking at all approaches for selling this software. The current product line will be sold on separate boxes but as a blade, over time, most certainly. The strategy is to provide boxes and blades, but there's a lot of functionality here. Is it all appropriate inside the network? We have to evolve and listen to our customers to find that out.

Does it make sense to integrate Tapestry Data Migration Manager, which moves block-level data between heterogeneous arrays with NuView's File Lifecycle Manager for heterogeneous file migration? After all, users would like to have tools that do more than one thing.

Riggsbee: Over time, maybe. But what is a single pane supposed to look like? We have to get more customer feedback on what integration makes sense. For now, the products will remain separate. Think of them as peers, think of NuView and Tapestry WAFS in the same context.

Will you keep the NuView branding?

Riggsbee: Yes, most likely. It's understood by customers in this space. We don't see any reason to change it.

Can you share any revenue numbers for the Tapestry line today or numbers of customers using these products?

Riggsbee: We've said we expect to report 5% of revenues from Tapestry by the end of fiscal year 2006. It's too early to share customer numbers at this stage.

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