By Ann Silverthorn
Last week, Brocade announced a partnership with Tacit Networks, a wide area file services (WAFS) vendor. According to analysts, the move should strengthen Brocade in the competitive ring with Cisco and give Brocade an edge over McData and QLogic, two competitors yet to offer WAFS solutions.
WAFS centralizes a company's data storage in a central server at the data center while eliminating the need for traditional file servers and storage at branch locations. A WAFS appliance at the branch office handles the traffic between the branch and headquarters, allowing companies to realize economies of scale and higher security in storage management. The WAFS appliances deliver LAN-like performance over WANs.
The courtship between Brocade and Tacit began about six months ago, according to Tom Buiocchi, vice president of worldwide marketing at Brocade. "We wanted a [WAFS] solution, so we did some due diligence in terms of customers and benchmarks. Tacit has more customers, more deployments, and more traction than the other WAFS vendors," he says.
Cisco (via its acquisition of Actona), DiskSites, and FineGround are the other WAFS players. Peribit, recently acquired by Juniper, and Riverbed Technology also specialize in WAN optimization but have less of a storage-specific focus, according to analysts.
Among WAFS vendors, Buiocchi says file caching is what sets Tacit apart: "A user saves a file and the file is stored in the Tacit device at the branch office. As the user continues to work, the cache sends the data over the WAN to the central office. If the WAN goes down in the middle of the file transfer, a feature called 'persistent logging' will resume the transfer when the system comes back up." Buiocchi says that some other WAFS devices require the transfer to start again when there is a blip in the WAN.
So why didn't Brocade acquire Tacit the way Cisco did with Actona? "We decided after some extensive conversations that the quickest path to market and the best win/win [situation] was for us to enter into this partnership," says Buiocchi. "We allow them to scale on the sales side since we have good OEM partnerships and a bigger sales force than they do, and we get access to their technology."
Noah Breslow, vice president of marketing at Tacit, adds that the Brocade partnership will help Tacit enter the channel, but it won't change Tacit's existing direct sales strategies. "Direct sales are still a very important part of our business," he says. "We think it's important to have that primary contact with our customers."
Brocade will resell Tacit's WAFS product under the Tacit name for the first three months, but after that it will move toward a Brocade-branded product, according to Breslow.
For more information on WAFS, see Wide area file services tame the distributed enterprise and Users adopt WAFS for WAN file transfers .