Brocade – What’s Their Direction?

Bought Foundry – rushed it?

Brocade paid $3.4 billion for Foundry and rushed the acquisition using a lot of cash to close the deal quickly. HP just completed the 3Com purchase for $2.7 billion. To my mind, the 3Com assets are a lot more valuable since they also have firewalls, IDS and a wide range of networking products. Foundry only has Core Ethernet switching products and no access ethernet, no service provider, no wireless.

Of course, Brocade only makes high end FibreChannel switches which are high performance, high complexity and highly proprietary so Foundry makes a nice fit to nice little corner of the market for a tidy profit. But when Cisco announced FCoE and then threw a billion dollars behind it, Brocade’s core products around FibreChannel became obsolete. Oh, I know the FibreChannel will limp along for a few more years, but there is no five year plan for growth anymore. That’s over. Ethernet is the future.

And the Data Centre has become a war zone between HP, IBM, Cisco and now HDS. Where does Brocade fit in?

Foundry Command Line is a mess

I have also worked on the Foundry Ethernet equipment and find it a confusing mess of interface, syntax and technology differences. It needs a lot of support to keep that equipment running. As a result, it’s hard to like and use the Foundry / Brocade ethernet story. I recently worked on a site that has ServerIron, FastIron and BigIron switches. Each one has a slight, but significant difference in CLI that makes them frustrating to work with (and appreciate how Cisco’s IOS interface is reasonably consistent). I had to constantly refer to the manuals to validate and cross reference every command. That’s a but annoying.

The EtherealMind View


So I reckon Brocade made a big mistake buying Foundry at all, and certainly overpaid for what they did get. Brocade’s share price has dropped a long way, and there has been VERY little information about what they are doing with their Ethernet products. They don’t share anything about future plans or get involved with customers from what I can see.

Where’s the plan?

I’m not a Brocade customer, and unlikely to ever consider them until I know more about what they are doing. And that doesn’t mean meeting with a sales team or marketing team. I should be able to clearly perceive the future from their public presence. I don’t want closed briefings or NDA roadmaps. Just show me a coherent plan, on your website, and then I can consider you as a serious supplier.

Or is it just me? Can you see a future for Brocade beyond five years?

About the author

Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is the co-host of Packet Pushers. After surviving 25 years in Enterprise IT with only minor damage, he uses his networking expertise for good in the service of others by deep diving on technology and industry. His unique role as an inspirational cynicist brings a sense of fun, practicality and sheer talent to world of data networking and its place in a world of clouds.

He blogs regularly at and the podcasts are at

1 Comment

  • FCoE is about 3% market penetration.  Brocade with Fiber Channel  just had multiple consecutive quarters or revenue growth y/y.  Now the Foundry acquisition still hasn’t paid off and the strategy of OEM markeing for FC and Direct marketing for IP hasn’t served Brocade well. Either way, Brocade’s biggest competitor isn’t Cisco, it’s NAS.

Leave a Comment