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Brocade Poaches Key SDN Exec From Juniper

Dan O'Shea

Brocade has added more brain power to its team challenging the datacenter market shares of companies like Cisco and Juniper by hiring an esteemed technologist away from the latter.

Benson Schliesser, who most recently worked at Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and has also worked at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), has been hired by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) into the job of distinguished engineer. In this new role, he will no doubt collaborate with Brocade chief scientist and Service Provider CTO David Meyer, another Cisco alum, to connive new ways for Brocade to topple the datacenter architecture status quo.

For Brocade's part, it's merely saying Schliesser will be deeply involved in Brocade's software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) strategies, and will work closely with customers on new network architecture visions. (See IP Veteran Joins Brocade's SDN/NFV Team.)

But make no mistake: Schliesser is a ringer. He co-chairs the IETF Network Virtualization Overlays Group, making him a technologist with formidable industry influence and connections, in the same mold as Meyer, who is the chairman of the OpenDaylight Project Technical Steering Committee. (See OpenDaylight Picks Committee Chair.)

Also, count Schliesser as the latest bright mind to decide he wanted to move on from the established infrastructure hardware aura of Juniper or Cisco. One year ago this month, former Juniper executive Lloyd Carney became Brocade's CEO. Among other moves, Meyer fled Cisco for Brocade, while another Cisco technologist, Prashant Ghandi, departed Cisco for Big Switch Networks . (See Cisco SDN Expert Leaves for Brocade, Big Switch Recruits VP from Cisco, Big Switch Appoints VP of Engineering, and Ex-Juniper Exec Now Running Brocade.)

The high-profile hiring of Schliesser comes as Brocade has aggressively invested in SDN and virtualization, in general, and has pressed hard into the service provider market in the last year and a half. This campaign has included the acquisition of Vyatta to contribute to Brocade's datacenter portfolio. (See Brocade: Poised for Virtual Joy?, Brocade Buys Vyatta for Software Routing Smarts, and Brocade Sets an SDN Plan.)

Brocade has been attempting to work its way onto Juniper's and Cisco's turf even before that, outlining its vision for the future of datacenter fabrics as early as mid-2010. But, with more talent being added to the effort, perhaps it's finally getting close. (See Brocade Preaches Data Center Nirvana.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
1/14/2014 | 3:39:48 PM
Re: Is SDN Brocade's route into telco hearts?
There's also the aspect of Meyer and Schliesser being tasked to get deeply involved with customers on architecture design, which is certainly what's needed to get the SDN market moving, and also to get companies like the telcos to take more than baby steps.

Although, we also have seen plenty of companies from other sectors the network operator market with what seemed like the right plan and mindset only to get bogged down. Can the new guard at Brocade avoid that pattern?
User Rank: Blogger
1/14/2014 | 4:58:52 AM
Is SDN Brocade's route into telco hearts?
This is building into quite the play by Brocade -- adding senior influencers like Schliesser sends a real message to wide area network operators as well as the data center brigade, and it seems clear that Brocade views SDN as a real opportunity to eat into Cisco and Juniper's market share.

And there are few more respected individuals in the SDN fraternity than Meyer...
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