IBM to resell Brocade's IP networking gear

By Kevin Komiega

-- Brocade and IBM are expanding their decade-long OEM relationship beyond Fibre Channel SAN switches to include Brocade's full line of enterprise IP networking switches and routers acquired from Foundry Networks.

The amended OEM deal between the two companies builds on an existing SAN partnership, under which IBM has been selling Brocade's data center networking products and technologies, including the multi-protocol Brocade DCX Backbone along with Fibre Channel directors, standalone and embedded switches and related software.

Initially, IBM plans to sell Brocade's NetIron MLX Series, NetIron CES 2000 Series, FastIron GS Series and FastIron SuperX family of Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10GbE products.

IBM will re-brand the products as the IBM m-series routers, c-series, g-series and s-series Ethernet switches, respectively. IBM plans to add to the list over time and will offer multiple versions of each product line.

The deal is a big win for Brocade as it attempts to strengthen and diversify its go-to-market strategy for the Foundry portfolio. Customers will now be able to purchase Brocade networking products and services through any combination of channels, including OEM partners, global resellers and direct from Brocade.

IBM expects to make the re-branded Brocade products generally available to customers in May.

Dave Stevens, Brocade's chief technology officer, says there is a clear line dividing Ethernet and Fibre Channel in today's data center networking infrastructures. Over time, he says, that line will blur.

"There is an emerging area in the middle between high performance Ethernet and Fibre Channel SANs with Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and converged network adapters (CNAs)," says Stevens.

Brocade's game plan is to add storage connectivity to its Ethernet gear and vice versa.

"We will see convergence over time. Today, the [enterprise Ethernet] side of our portfolio is entirely based on Foundry Networks' technology while the Fibre Channel side is entirely Brocade. Going forward we will add CEE-compliant ports into the MLX platform and blades to the DCX Backbone as we continue to drive up the size and density of those two platforms," Stevens says.

Brocade made converged networking news recently when the company began shipping new FCoE and CEE-capable switches and CNAs.

IBM's dynamic infrastructure strategy

The Brocade deal is part of a bigger "dynamic infrastructure" strategy at Big Blue. Today, IBM also announced new hardware, software and services for streamlining networking connectivity and improving IT efficiency.

In conjunction with the Brocade deal, IBM is introducing a new service offering called IBM Networking, Strategy, Optimization and Implementation Services for consolidation and virtualization.

According to IBM, the Brocade Ethernet switches complement IBM's current networking offerings, such as those from Cisco and a "strengthened" collaboration with Juniper Networks.

On the storage front, IBM is offering a new version of the System Storage DS5000 that will include self-encrypting disk technology and a new version of Tivoli Storage Productivity Center with upgraded performance analytics technology and customization features.

Related articles:
Brocade to pay $3B to buy Foundry Networks
Brocade launches FCoE switch, adapters
Brocade ships midrange backbone switch

This article was originally published on April 28, 2009