IBM to resell Brocade

Brocade has extended an OEM relationship with IBM to include its recently acquired Foundry switches in a deal that appears to be in retaliation for Cisco’s recent entry into the blade server market.

IBM will rebrand and sell Brocade’s Foundry switches through its global sales force and authorized business partners. The switches include:

• NetIron MLX series, to be rebranded IBM m-series Ethernet routers;

• NetIron CES 2000 series, to be rebranded IBM c-series Ethernet switches;

• FastIron SuperX line, to be rebranded IBM s-series Ethernet switches; and

• FastIron GS series, to be rebranded IBM g-series Ethernet switches.

The amended OEM agreement, announced this week, extends the existing relationship between Brocade and IBM in the SAN market. That arrangement has been in place for over 10 years, according to Brocade, and includes the multi-protocol Brocade DCX Backbone along with Fibre Channel directors, stand-alone and embedded switches, and related software.

Meanwhile, IBM has been selling networking equipment from Cisco for just as long, and recently began selling LAN switches from Juniper Networks.

The Brocade extension is viewed by some as an IBM countermeasure to Cisco’s entry into the data center blade server market, which has been a stronghold of IBM’s for decades.

Cisco’s decision to develop its own blade servers may have angered IBM, HP and others in that market. As a result, server vendors are aligning themselves with Cisco competitors in the networking space.

Some believe Cisco won’t feel the impact of the IBM/Brocade deal. Others see this as more than a response to Cisco entering the blade server market.

“This is less of a response to Cisco and more of a reaction to the need and use of Ethernet in the storage environment,” says Abner Germanow, an analyst at IDC. IBM is looking at all the various vendors of Ethernet and picking out the best of what all of those companies have to offer. They’re not putting all of their eggs into one basket.”

Or two: IBM says the Cisco and Juniper resale arrangements will continue despite the extended deal with Brocade. “Juniper and Cisco are key IBM networking partners and we will continue to resell their products,” an IBM spokesman stated in an e-mail. “The expansion of the Brocade agreement is about providing additional choice to IBM’s customers.”

Juniper also says it is business as usual with IBM. IBM resells Juniper’s EX line of LAN switches, which debuted 13 months ago. “The relationship with IBM is very strong,” says Hitesh Sheth, executive vice-president and general manager of Juniper’s Ethernet Platforms business group. “The resale arrangement is going to remain in place and we will continue to strengthen the relationship we already have with IBM. We have to separate what may be tactical stuff going on vs. strategic.”

IBM expects to make these products generally available in May.

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