By Kevin Komiega
—Now that the deal is done and Brocade has officially acquired storage networking rival McData for close to $1 billion, the company is beginning to pull back the curtain on its highly anticipated product plans and answer questions about which products will—and will not—survive the merger.
The strategy seems clear. Brocade will offer and support existing products from both companies throughout 2007 with the ultimate goal of cherry-picking the best aspects of the platforms and combining them into common, integrated hardware and software products in 2008.
The Brocade name will serve as the master brand for all of the company's products, but some McData product names and descriptions will survive for the time being.
Brocade's bread and butter is undoubtedly the midrange and entry-level SAN switching market. Both Brocade and McData have been neck-and-neck in offering 4Gbps Fibre Channel SAN switches, but there is significant overlap between their respective product lines.
The main difference between the switches, according to Brocade officials, is software compatibility, or a lack thereof. Brocade switches run Brocade Fabric OS and McData switches run McData EOS. The plan going forward is to produce a single line of switch products that will interoperate fully with Brocade and McData SAN environments.
Brocade will use its Fibre Channel switch architecture as the foundation for the SAN switch product line. This architecture will support interoperability and manageability in Brocade, McData, and mixed environments. Future switches will be made interoperable with the McData Sphereon switch family, as well as with McData's Intrepid 6140 and i10K directors.
The McData Sphereon 4400 and 4700 switches will be phased out in 2007, but will continue to be supported by Brocade for five years after their "end-of-sale" date.
However, "end of sale" does not mean the end of the product, says Brocade director of product marketing Mario Blandini.
"End of sale does not mean the platforms go away immediately. When we announce an end of sale it means the product is entering the latter part of its lifecycle and will stop being manufactured 6 to 12 months after the announcement," Blandini explains. "This will allow end users and partners the opportunity to plan for future purchases."
Prior to the acquisition, Brocade and McData both offered SAN directors in the form of McData's Intrepid 6140 and i10K and Brocade's SilkWorm 48000 director. Brocade claims customers want both product families to continue to minimize disruption. As a result, all three directors will continue to be available from Brocade.
However, according to its road map, Brocade considers the 48000 director the "preferred director for the Brocade installed base and for many new deployment use cases." McData's Intrepid 6140 and i10K directors will be renamed as the Brocade M6140 and Mi10K, respectively, and will be the sold as preferred solutions for the McData installed base. New customers will be able to purchase any of the above.
All of that will change when 8Gbps Fibre Channel technology hits the market. The company will merge the best features of both director families into a single SAN director platform when the 8Gbps transition rolls around in 2008. The new common director platform will be interoperable and backward-compatible with all of the current director products.
The foundation of Brocade's SAN management software going forward will be the Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (formerly McData's EFCM). Brocade EFCM will become the company's converged management application for all Brocade SAN products, evolving to incorporate functionality from Brocade Fabric Manager. The software platform is already capable of managing Brocade SAN switches and directors as well as McData products.
The Brocade Fabric Manager software will continue to be offered and enhanced until its functionality is built into the converged EFCM application, a task Brocade expects to complete by the first half of 2008.
The Brocade SAN Health family of tools—SAN Health Diagnostics, SAN Health Pro, and SAN Health Expert—will also live on and will be available for Brocade, McData, or mixed environments.
"They went with their own hardware and virtual services, McData's software for management and kept the main products available until they merge in a year or two," says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. "They also committed to protecting the McData customers who want to stay put for five years, which should close the door on any apprehension."
SAN routing and FC over IP
SAN routing and Fibre Channel over IP is an area where some McData products are officially getting the axe. Brocade plans to consolidate its SAN router offerings on the Brocade 7500 and FR4-18i within six months. This means McData's gear, namely its 2640 and 1620 SAN routers, will be phased out in 2007, but will continue to be supported for five years.
Blade server modules
McData's blade module products are also facing extinction. The Brocade 4012 and 4024 for HP's p- and c-class products, the 4020 for IBM's BladeCenter and Intel chassis, and model 4016 blade server modules for the Dell Power Edge, Fujitsu-Siemens PRIMERGY Blade Server, and Hitachi BladeSymphony Server will all continue to be sold. Because these blade server modules operate in Brocade and mixed-vendor environments, the company is immediately discontinuing the availability of McData's blade server module offerings.
Brocade is also redoubling its efforts in the mainframe connectivity market, specifically around FICON protocols and FICON extension solutions. The Brocade 4100 and 4900 FICON-certified SAN switches will continue to be available, and the McData UltraNet Edge Storage Router (now called the Brocade Edge M3000) and McData UltraNet Edge Storage Director eXtended 6 and 12 (now called the Brocade USD-X6 and USD-X12) FICON and ESCON extension and conversion products also made the cut.
Brocade will continue to offer virtualization and storage application platforms via the Brocade Fabric Application Platform, which will be renamed the Brocade AP7420. McData's virtualization solution, the Application Services Module (ASM), will be discontinued and future application development will be transitioned to the Brocade AP7420 and its successors.
Brocade's Fabric Application Platform is the basis for EMC's RecoverPoint and Invista solutions, along with Fujitsu-Siemens' Eternus solution. This platform also hosts applications such as Brocade's Data Migration Manager (DMM) and Application Resource Manager (ARM).
Brocade is also keeping its file area network (FAN) solutions in-house and will immediately phase out the availability of McData's SpectraNet WDS Accelerator from Riverbed in favor of Brocade's Wide Area File Services, StorageX, MyView, File Lifecycle Manager, UNCUpdate, and Data on Demand Manager (DDM) products.
New names, same offerings
Certain hardware and software products and services will continue to be offered, but with new monikers. The Brocade FSP 2000 DWDM Multiplexer (from Adva) will still be offered through Brocade Professional Services and will no longer be re-branded as McData had previously done. The same applies to FalconStor's Replicator and Virtual Tape Library.
Brocade's Blandini maintains that customer support will not change. Brocade has no plans to change the support level customers and partners have been receiving or have purchased. All support access methods will remain in place regardless of whether a product was purchased from Brocade or McData, and all existing service level agreements will continue.
Brocade will begin consolidating call center numbers, e-mail aliases, and other contact information in the coming months and plans to keep customers apprised of the changes.