IBM (NYSE: IBM) will resell Ethernet switches and routers from Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD), but Big Blue says retaliation against Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) isn’t the motive for the deal.
Rumors of an IBM-Brocade deal have abounded since Cisco entered the server market more than a month ago, in the process taking on long-time partners IBM and HP (NYSE: HPQ). The nature of the IBM-Brocade deal — an OEM agreement — also suggests that Big Blue may be getting back into the networking market 10 years after selling its networking business to Cisco.
But Charlie Andrews, IBM’s director of Dynamic Infrastructure, said those perceptions are mistaken. IBM, he said, is simply responding to customer need for Brocade’s products, and Brocade’s OEM business model made an OEM arrangement the way to go, in contrast with the company’s reseller agreements with Cisco and Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR).
“It doesn’t change our relationships with our other partners,” Andrews said. “Cisco is a very important partner to us, as is Juniper.”
The deal with Brocade has been in the works for a while and pre-dated Cisco’s initial mid-March announcement, Andrews said. “This is not in any context a response to that announcement,” he said.
Brocade and IBM have had an OEM arrangement for Fibre Channel switches for 10 years.
Brocade acquired its Ethernet networking business in December from Foundry Networks — a move intended to better compete in the emerging market for converged data center fabrics with Cisco.
The IBM-Brocade deal will also include Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switches and CNAs, said Ian Whiting, Brocade’s senior vice president of worldwide sales.
Andrews confirmed that FCoE is on Big Blue’s radar screen — and he said the company will roll out “actual FCoE offerings” in the next two to three months.
As part of today’s broad Dynamic Infrastructure announcement, IBM is also unveiling a new version of the IBM System Storage DS5000 — based on Big Blue’s OEM arrangement with LSI (NYSE: LSI) — that will include self-encrypting disk technology for mid-market storage customers. Other enhancements will include 8Gbps Fibre Channel adapters and greater capacity of up to 448 disk drives in a single system.
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