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Brocade Tweaks Cisco

Craig Matsumoto

3:45 PM -- While it's always dangerous to extrapolate from one quarter's market share changes, the numbers Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) is kicking around today are hard to ignore. And of course, Brocade is taking the opportunity to tweak Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) about it.

Brocade isn't quite taking the kamikaze approach of router upstart Vyatta Inc. (See Vyatta Trash Talk.) But there's some definite glee in its reporting that, according to Dell'Oro Group numbers, Brocade gained 10 percentage points of market share, by revenue, in modular Fibre Channel switches, while Cisco lost 10 percentage points. That's not exactly rounding error.

Table 1: SAN Switch Market Share

Q4 '08 Q1 '09
Source: Dell'Oro Group, via Brocade

It looks even better for Brocade in the modular switch market share:

Table 2: Market Share: Fibre Channel Modular Switches
Q4 '08 Q1 '09
Source: Dell'Oro Group, via Brocade

Brocade cites brain-crushing technological superiority as a factor (we're paraphrasing there), but it's also pointing to Cisco's increasingly acrimonious relationship with certain partners. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), in particular, seems sore at Cisco's attempts to take more of the data-center market for itself; that's led to IBM strengthening ties with Brocade and striking up a cloud-computing friendship with Juniper. (See Cisco Dreams of Data Center Unity, IBM to Resell Brocade/Foundry Gear, IBM, Juniper Get Closer, and Everyone Loves IBM.)

Via email, a Cisco spokeswoman points out that it's growing rapidly in Fibre Channel over Ethernet deployments, which aren't counted here, and that the sour economy has customers interested in extending the life of the gear they've got rather than in buying anything new. She also notes what I said up top: Any single-quarter change can turn out to be a mirage.

Still, the numbers could put Cisco under the gun to quickly reverse some of what's happened. One quarter could be shrugged off as an anomaly, but only if things snap back to normal right away.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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12/5/2012 | 4:03:57 PM
re: Brocade Tweaks Cisco

Given the larger change CSCO has announced for the data center with virtualizing everything over Nexus switches, perhaps this is the start of a larger trend.  Customers could either be pondering what Nexus means, or they could be running for the hills.

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