Brocade To Buy Foundry

Posted on August 23, 2008

This isn’t new, but simply new to me, at least if I saw it before I didn’t pay sufficient attention… Brocade Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire Foundry Networks, press release dated 7/21/08. I mean, is commentary even required?

This, naturally, just adds a massive blow in the “fibre channel is dead” debate; assuming there is anyone that will continue to argue the point. Clearly 4Gb FC-Fabric has a useful place, but its clear that 10Gbps with is various RDMA add-ons will likely do what Infiniband had promised oh so long ago, and once the pricepoint of 10gigE hits the sweet spot in 1-2 years is all over for FC-Fabric.

But more interesting than the technology is the business practice of Brocade. McData was an upstart gunning against the more established Brocade… then McData shot like a rocket and made Brocade look like an aging dog…. solved by acquisition, bringing McData’s lucrative chassis-based core switch business to Brocade who was being relgated more so toward edge switching and competing more and more with Qlogic. They’ve repositioned, trying to appear more like a data management company than storage networking company, including several attempts to popularize terms like FAN (File Area Network… you can hear the thud echo every time its said aloud).

We’ve all seen businesses who were so committed, stupidly, to dying products and services that they refused to diversify and grow with the trends for fear of loosing face. Brocade is, I think, simultaneously admitting defeat and refusing to die. Awesome business savy. A look at any business history shows that failure to commit to trends due to “core competency” only keeps you from becoming all that you can be. Steve Jobs said once, many moons ago, that if Xerox only realized what they had with the ALTO computer developed at XEROX PARC they, Xerox, would be become the giant to rival IBM in the computer market. Xerox had a core competency, it thought, in the copier business… in hind site we see that was absolutely insanely wrong and short sighted; Xerox’s core competency was R&D from which it could spin off companies or divisions to execute on, 3M or Dow are good examples of this.

In that mindset, I can’t wonder if Brocade will be a much bigger player in the future. Right now it looks like desperation to stay afloat, but who knows, in 10 years we may all feel very differently.