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Brocade shindig sees the fabric king stretching out

'We're gonna change the industry'

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You don't have to do it for speed and you would be putting your carefully tuned and dependable FC traffic at risk. Brocade didn't say this. But it did say it saw no great demand for FCoE from its customers and was content to let their needs drive its strategy. Those needs may change as Ethernet fabrics get larger and faster. Chief Technology Officer Dave Stevens foresaw that, over the next 18 months fabrics will go beyond 10,000 ports and there will be more diverse server connectivity options such as 40GBitE and 100GbitE.

There was much discussion of the IPV4 to IPV6 transition but against the cloud concept and the integrated stack concept this is less important.

Consolidation

Brocade has spent the bulk of its life as a consolidating agent in the Fibre Channel space – remember CNT and McData? Alberto Soto, its EMEA VP, though that there could be consolidation amongst Ethernet suppliers as well: "Some suppliers have difficult financials. They may get acquired ... I wouldn't be surprised. It's an industry that needs investment. To do that you need critical mass."

CEO Michael Klayko said this: "You need to be very very clear what your value proposition is or you will die. In the Ethernet space it's innovate or die. Folks are coming in all the time now ... Complacent suppliers will get consolidated up or they're going to die."

My opinion is that old habits die hard, and a Fibre Channel business consolidator could readily evolve into an Ethernet business consolidator.

Brocade is a determined company of some 6,000 souls. It sees some competitors stumbling – a nod to Cisco closing its Flip business perhaps – and I believe it sees no serious threat to its Fibre Channel dominance. This business is growing and gives Brocade the luxury of a great, solid and reliable revenue stream to develop its Foundry Ethernet IP. The new products announced here are the result of that.

The fabric king is going to push the "data centre without walls" concept and not cede the cloud marketing high ground to Cisco or anyone else. Brocade perhaps senses that Cisco is little on its back foot and that customers are perhaps resentful of Cisco's huge profit margins and the rush to push FCoE down their throats. Virtual enterprises can run Fibre Channel for a while longer and Brocade can try to grab more control over server network edge devices to give it a greater say in the downstream network components.

That's the promise of the Fabric Adapter, and Klayko said: "We're gonna change the industry. If we can control the edge device we can make the network easier to manage." ®

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