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Is The Recent IBM/Brocade Data Center Announcement Targeted at Cisco, or HP?

Many industry pundits have missed the proverbial forest for the trees this week. IBM’s recent announcement in which they detail the broadening of their joint Brocade/Foundry GTM strategy has been misinterpreted as an anti-Cisco strategy. In reality, it’s an anti-HP strategy. IBM sees HP turning their “aircraft carrier” to refocus on the Data Center as defined by Cisco’s UCS announcement (e.g. servers, storage and networking). Proof point: The hiring away of David Donatelli from EMC (storage experience with EMC, along with admittedly valuable Cisco-EMC DC “inside baseball” knowledge) to lead their newly defined Data Center business.

IBM needed to counter HP’s Data Center strategy and broader DC portfolio offering and Brocade/Foundry gave them what they needed: An OEM deal through which IBM can now resell its own branded ethernet gear vs. ProCurve in accounts. The Cisco-IBM SAN (MDS 9000 Family of products) relationship remains strong. IBM will now be able to position the Foundry ethernet gear versus HP’s ProCurve products. This will be in addition to the Cisco ethernet gear that IBM and Cisco will continue to jointly market and sell.

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7 Comments.


  1. I don’t tend to agree 100% with this comment. Although there is no doubt that HP is targetted with the IBM Brocade alliance, Cisco is not exempted from this. In the Data Center space, IBM is seeing HP as well as Cisco as a threat as well. The IBM Brocade alliance is giving IBM better time to enter this market which was led by Cisco and HP. I am not sure about the enterprise though. The announcement talks about different types of Brocade (Foundry) ethernet switches, including the FastIron series, that does not fit normally into data centers, but more into the enterprise. If this is true, then IBM/Cisco relationship is in doubt in the near future. Cisco, Foundry and ProCurve have different differentiation strategy. While Cisco promotes end-to-end solutions, Foundry focuses on performance, throughput and data center ready as their differentiation. ProCurve on the other hand tends to have price differentiation strategy supported by aggressive support plans and HP brand.RegardsNader

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  2. Interesting perspective, I would tend to agree with your comments if HP/IBM makes a bid to buy BRCD before Brocade start shipping the network products (which is currently scheduled during May first week).

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  3. I think long time IBM users remember Cisco buyout of IBM’s Networking Hardware Division’s (NHD) routing and switching business in 1999, effectively rendered Big Blue’s routing and switching gear obsolete as Cisco expressed no interest in incorporating any specific IBM network technology into its lineup.I guess many of these users never again will buy network gear from IBM.

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  4. The IBM Brocade announcement was most certainly aimed squarely at Cisco. IBM is not ceasing ProCurve sales to move to Brocade – they’re ceasing Cisco sales to move to Brocade. This will include replacing MDS sales with Brocade Director sales as well.UCS has driven a huge wedge into the Cisco relationships at both IBM and HP. I work closely with several IBM sales teams and they universally tell me that Cisco is a dirty word within Big Blue.The UCS introduction has opened up all sorts of competition in the Data Center switching space including ProCurve, Brocade as well as Juniper. Thinking anything else ignores the facts.

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  5. I am not sure about the enterprise though. The announcement talks about different types of Brocade (Foundry) ethernet switches, including the FastIron series, that does not fit normally into data centers, but more into the enterprise. If this is true, then IBM/Cisco relationship is in doubt in the near future.

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  6. HP is buying 3Com, IBM is OEM to Brocade/Foundry products and Cisco is allocating in the servers blade market. That is the world war and the user will be benefit. The question is: Who will it the surviving and how getting? I am with Cisco.

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  7. If anyone thinks IBM is wounded or benefits by this announcement, they are not looking at the big picture. IBM has the corner on the tapes and the automated tape libraries market. With their recent announcements of video over tape, I think companies like HP, Brocade, and Cisco will be left with the scraps of the telecom industry. More and more enterprises are running production data retrieval using tape, and relegating disk only to back up tapes.

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