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From a channel perspective, Brocade's planned purchase of Foundry creates several challenges. For one thing, the bulk of Brocade's channel partners are focused on storage. At the same time, Foundry can't fill the networking void because it brings few channel partners into the mix. Foundry counts CDW as one of the largest among its 250 worldwide partners, a company spokesman said, noting that the majority of the vendor's revenue comes from direct sales.
"[Foundry] doesn't have a channel. We recognized that and recently have been working with them, and they were acknowledging that they need to build their partner base," Teter said. "Our partnership was really the genesis of doing just that. They will need to build a channel organization that addresses both of these product lines. They're going to also need to increase their partnerships during this integration to rely on networking and Fibre Channel infrastructure partners."
"I think it will take some time potentially before storage-centric partners pick up Foundry products as they are. My expectation is we will start gravitating toward the converged roadmap of the two product lines," said Kent Christensen, product manager at Datalink, a Brocade partner based in Chanhassen, Minn. "Which is not to say that there isn't an opportunity near-term with the Foundry products. We as an organization are definitely exploring going further into some of those areas."
Dan Carson, vice president of marketing and business development at Open Systems Solutions, a Willow Grove, Pa.-based Brocade partner, said he expects there to be a need for solution providers with niche expertise. "Probably not," Carson said, when asked if Open Systems Solutions would add Foundry products to its portfolio. "Our focus is exclusively on storage and the storage space, and we don't branch out."
A combined Brocade/Foundry will face uncertainly in the market as customers wait to see how the two companies join forces and meld into one, said Raphe Reeves, vice president of Cisco operations at ProSys, a solution provider based in Norcross, Ga.
Many questions loom, such as how -- and how quickly -- Brocade can bring the two product lines together, whether customers will have to undergo forklift upgrades to take advantage of synergies between the products and how simple or complex data center solutions based on Brocade/Foundry technology will be to deploy, Reeves said.