UPDATED 08:45 EST / MAY 29 2012

Brocade on the State and Future of Networking – Customer Choice is Key

The Cube’s John Furrier and Dave Vellante sat down with Jason Nolet, Vice President Data Center and Enterprise Networking Group, Brocade, at this year’s EMC World about the state of the networking market and where the market is going (see full video below). Brocade helped pioneer the storage area networking market with EMC. Lately Brocade’s relationship with EMC has experienced a resurgence partially fueled by the launch of VSPEX, a small and medium business focused virtualization solution.

Nolet explained that VSPEX provides the flexibility for customers to create best of breed solutions instead of constraining them to a single configuration. The capability is one of two opposing philosophies in the networking market – give customers choice or simplify and provide preconfigured products. According to Nolet, providing customers choice puts a lot of burden on vendors to certify that their products work with a broader range of solutions. Even with this additional burden, Brocade felt that the value provided to customers by allowing greater choice far outweighed the effort.

Delivering customers additional choice isn’t the only change occurring in the networking market. Dave Vellante described the shift he’s seeing in market demand for hybrid cloud solutions. Wikibon polls show a substantial increase in the demand for hybrid cloud solutions in the last eleven months. Nolet said his firm is seeing similar trends. He went on to say, many IT organizations are starting with private cloud infrastructure and determining how they can meet user demands and then looking externally to see how they can supplement their internal capabilities. Technology leaders understand that users now have the ability to circumvent IT and purchase cloud-based solutions so IT departments have to ensure their options remain attractive.

The conversation shifted to the Cube’s John Furrier questioning how businesses can differentiate between the multiple networking “fabric” products on the market promising to improve performance in hybrid cloud scenarios. According to Nolet, Brocade really pioneered the term fabric with regard to networking. Nolet continued, Juniper, Cisco and other networking providers creating their own fabric products validates the approach that Brocade took with ethernet fabric over a year ago. Nolet declined to discuss competitors in detail, but said Brocades solution is focused on simplicity, automation, making their products easy to use and low cost. Brocade is dedicated to providing something that works for the typical enterprise.

Brocade is also very supportive of the move toward software defined networking. Brocade recently announced its support for OpenFlow in their some of their router products. Brocade sees the support for software defined networking as freeing companies from having to contact their network provider for every change. Unlike some vendors, Brocade does not feel that software defined networking commoditizes their offerings. Nolet explained that Brocade still sees an opportunity to differentiate itself with how it implements the technology.

Nolet said that although the increasing popularity of technologies like cloud and  devops, Brocade is still focused on its core competency as a network infrastructure provider. If the company needs to offer additional products and services, it will partner instead of expanding its focus. The networking market is continuing to evolve. Brocade wants to be at the fore front of that revolution with compromising its identity.

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