The power of one

NWME: In June, you have unveiled Brocade One converged data centre strategy and product plans. Have you been able to deliver on that yet?

First of all, what we did in June was to provide a vision and sense of director to our enterprise customers. Now, we need to walk the talk and that’s exactly we are going to do in November-December timeframe. On November 15th, we are going to announce VCS (Virtual Cluster Switching), which is going to the core technology to fulfil our vision. Also, on 29th and 30th of November, we are organising a conference for the first time in Dubai, allowing our customers to see what we are talking about.

Brocade had a disappointing first quarter in terms of Ethernet/IP sales. Are you going to re-think your OEM-led market strategy?

Our sales strategy is much broader than what it used to be. In the past, we heavily relied on OEM relationships, and now moving forward we are going to a traditional two tier distribution model. On top of it, we are going to also the increase the footprint in the market. In the past three months alone, we have added 85 new headcounts in the EMEA and we are now close to 400 in the region.

What kind of opportunities do you see in the Middle East market?

One thing we are trying is not to go after every single opportunity we see. Our traditional market is enterprise and service providers, and what we are going to do is to focus on specific projects around networking and storage, and data centre consolidation. Some of the customers in the region have been relying on a single vendor for long, and now with the tough economic climate, they are looking for alternatives. Our value proposition is perfect for these customers.

Brocade is talking about bringing networking and storage together. How do you plan to go about it?

If you look at storage world, our technologies are being sold by the likes of IBM, HP and EMC, accounting for around 85 percent market share. Couple of years ago we acquired Foundry Networks, taking us into the Ethernet world. What we are doing right now is to take the intellectual property that we have accumulated over 15 years in the storage world and fusing it together with the cost-efficiencies of the networking world, providing extremely good value to our customers.

How do you actually make the Layer 2 fabric lossless? Is VCS going to be the key to flattening the network infrastructure?

Data centres are becoming increasingly complex, and our approach is a simple and flat network. Our vision is to have a data centre network in which every device is intelligent and is aware of the topology with self-configuration capabilities. With VCS, enterprise network managers will be able to build lossless, low-latency Layer 2 data center fabrics they need to support the virtualized server infrastructure. They won't need to rely on the outdated and limiting Spanning Tree, which permits only a single active path between any two network nodes. Instead, Brocade has adapted some of its storage networking know-how to the Ethernet world, and relies on emerging work from the standards bodies.

Ports in a VCS switch cluster will support the IEEE's Data Center Bridging standards for lossless Ethernet switching and multihop Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) networking. In addition, Brocade also will use the IETF's emerging Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) standard for transporting data across converged fabrics.

What is your cloud strategy? Brocade CMO John McHugh has recently remarked that public cloud adoption is going to take a while…

The funny thing about some of these brightest ideas is that it takes a while to implement. Given the bandwidth and infrastructure our customers have, we think cloud adoption is going to take years. With security and management concerns still looming large, I don’t think users are going to put their data on the cloud. What we are going to see in the short term is customers going in for some of the cost advantages associated with cloud by building private clouds.

Brocade has recently announced a 100G high density router. How does it compare with the ones from Cisco and Juniper?

This product is key to Brocade maintaining its reputation as a price/performance innovator on Ethernet and IP. We already have a first customer for this router, which is the Amsterdam Internet exchange. They have huge SLAs in terms of performance and high-availability, which is what this new product is all about. We have announced MLXe router chassis. So what you can do is to replace ten one gigabit blade slots with one ten gigabit blade and free up other slots. You can do it overnight, without changing the architecture or disrupting business.

How do you see the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) shaping up?

FCoE is a very a good, except for one part and that is E. Ethernet by itself is very non-deterministic and trying to comply with certain QoS is very difficult. What is happening now is FCoE market is going down and what we believe is customer will adopt other technologies that much more simpler at lesser prices. Having said that, we ship FCoE products and Brocade engineers wrote around 90 percent of the specs of the technology for IEEE.

What do you think the next-gen data centre will look like?

The next-gen data centre is pretty much going to be based on an integrated network and storage network. We don’t envision a three tier model. No matter how big the data centre is, we are will believe we can manage with a flat network and proper intelligence.

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