Brocade: An Open Cisco Alternative?
During a chilly Friday in New York, The VAR Guy sat down for a warm bowl of soup — and a conversation with Brocade Channel Chief Barbara Spicek (pictured). Yes, soup was the meal. And the conversation was good. Here’s a recap.
Spicek reiterated Brocade Communications Systems Inc.‘s commitment to being an open, vendor-neutral storage and networking specialist. So far, that strategy seems to be serving Brocade well. For its fiscal year 2009, annual revenue jumped 33 percent. Some of the credit goes to Brocade’s successful 2008 buyout of Foundry Networks.
We’ve all seen well-intentioned technology mergers turn sour. But in Brocade’s case, Spicek seems to be connecting the dots between Foundry resellers and Brocade, and vice-versa. “It’s all about keeping our partner program profitable for partners — through quality and selectiveness,” says Spicek. “We’re not going to go wild. We’re not going to give every Cisco, HP and 3Com reseller a contract.”
Ah, but therein lies the rub: Spicek is keeping a close eye on Cisco and its Unified Computing System (UCS) strategy. “UCS has triggered a shift in the industry,” she concedes. “Cisco’s entry into the server market has caused the server vendors to react and try to protect their markets.”
In stark contrast, Spicek says, Brocade will continue to evangelize an open architecture — providing the pipes and links between storage, virtualization and other network components. “There will be top Cisco accounts that go UCS, but anyone who wants an open architecture won’t go for a single-vendor solution,” she adds.
In some cases, Cisco concedes the multi-vendor point, prompting the networking giant to work more closely with EMC and VMware on the Vblock initiative.
Brocade also is making moves. After our luncheon in chilly New York, Spicek was catching a flight to Dubai to meet with Middle East distributors. And she’s also looking ahead to an April 2010 Brocade partner gathering in Las Vegas. “For us, 2010 is really about recruiting stronger and wider partners to solidify the network,” says Spicek. “It’s about cross-cross training as we continue the data center and infrastructure discussion.”
For most folks, 2010 starts on Jan. 1. But Brocade’s fiscal 2010 began on November 1. And so far, Spicek likes the way 2010 is shaping up.