IBM to Resell Brocade/Foundry Gear

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) are extending their OEM relationship to include routers and switches from the former Foundry Networks.

The companies are announcing Tuesday that IBM will start reselling Brocade routers in May, assigning new IBM names to the products:

Table 1: Foundry's Alter Egos
Brocade Product Line IBM's Name
NetIron MLX m-series
NetIron CES 2000 c-series
FastIron GS g-series
FastIron SuperX s-series
Source: Brocade

The routers and switches will become part of IBM's Dynamic Infrastructure campaign related to cloud networking. Brocade will continue selling the ex-Foundry boxes, too, both directly and through the channel.

For years, IBM has resold Brocade equipment under IBM-branded names, so the deal for Brocade's IP product line isn't that radical. "We've taken that relationship and moved it to the IP market," says Marc Randall, the former Force10 Networks Inc. CEO who's now Brocade's senior vice president of products.

Still, the possibility was enough to have the press buzzing; Reuters, for instance, had mentioned the possibility of such a deal earlier in the month.

IBM has been reselling Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) routers into the data center market. Randall wouldn't say Brocade is displacing Cisco, but it's hard not to notice that IBM has some motivation to find other router sources. Cisco has been encroaching on IBM turf more and more in recent years, and it's also recently introduced servers that could help spread Cisco dominance to more of the data center. (See Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity.)

"IBM has been partnering with a number of networking vendors for the last few years. Some of that has been happening quietly, some of it not so quietly," says Abner Germanow, an analyst with IDC .

This latest deal isn't exclusive, though, so IBM is free to resell more Cisco switches and routers if it wants.

Separately, the deal is also a nice pat on the back for the former Foundry. "Any time IBM steps up and says, 'This stuff's pretty good,' that's pretty big for whoever makes that stuff," Germanow says.

Brocade acquired Foundry last year as a way to get into the Ethernet market. That gives Brocade a bigger portion of the data center and, perhaps more importantly, provides insurance in case a protocol such as Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) overtakes Fibre Channel in storage networks. (See Brocade Takes Aim at Cisco (& Juniper) and Brocade/Foundry Readies Ethernet Invasion.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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