Brocade Unveils Post-McData Product Road Map


Brocade Communications Systems on Monday unveiled a road map that charts the storage vendor's product course in the wake of its acquisition of McData.

With last week's close of the acquisition, Brocade will be keeping McData's current line of Fibre Channel directors, its management software and its long-distance SAN connectivity devices but will shortly phase out the McData line of Fibre Channel switches.

Brocade in August said it planned to acquire McData in a deal worth $713 million. But because of changes in Brocade's stock price, the final value of the deal when it closed on Friday was $973 million.

Brocade now controls nearly 75 percent of the Fibre Channel SAN connectivity market, a fact that worries Dan Carson, vice president of marketing and business development at Open Systems Solutions, a Willow Grove, Pa.-based solution provider that works with both vendors' products.

"Anytime that power is in a single company, it's possible to affect pricing and product availability," Carson said.

However, he added, it's good for the market that Brocade has finally unveiled its post-acquisition product plan. "It's a clear, definitive road map for the future," he said. "In general, we were concerned about what Brocade would do with the McData products, especially the directors. Customers have made sizable investments in director switches."

Brocade plans to maintain its stable of three director switches, including the legacy Brocade 48000 Director and McData's Intrepid i10K and 6140 directors, which have been rebranded the Brocade M6140 and Brocade Mi10K, said Tom Buiocchi, vice president of marketing at Brocade.

The company plans to continue to sell all three directors through this year at least, and next year a new converged platform that is backward-compatible with all three directors is expected to be available, Buiocchi said.

"All three have very viable customer bases," he said. "There is an installed base of about 40,000 Brocade and McData directors, including these three models and their predecessors."

For Fibre Channel switches, Brocade has decided to standardize on its legacy line, with the McData legacy switch line expected to be discontinued this year. Buiocchi said Brocade will continue to support the McData switches for at least five years after sales are discontinued.

Carson said that's an area of concern, especially to customers with three-year upgrade plans for their switches. "Now they have to decide whether to go with the upgrade process for products that are expected to be discontinued, or they need to switch over to Brocade," he said. "Customers are already going through this decision-making process."

Also this year, Brocade will discontinue McData's SAN router products, including the McData 2640 and 1620 lines, but will support the products for five years after they are discontinued.

For the mainframe market, Brocade will continue to offer its legacy 32-port Fibre Channel switch and 64-port director, along with McData's UltraNet Edge Storage Router and UltraNet Edge Storage Director eXtended lines for FICON and ESCON extension.

Brocade, too, is keeping its entire blade server SAN switch modules in production and immediately discontinuing the McData blade module lines. The McData FSP 2000 DWDM long-distance SAN connection appliance will be kept as well, but its replication and virtual tape library products will be discontinued within the next six months.

For management software, Brocade will continue to develop McData's legacy EFCM application, which has been rebranded as Brocade Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager. Buiocchi said EFCM was chosen as the management application going forward because it supports McData, Brocade and other SAN fabrics. However, he said many of the management features of Brocade's Fabric Manager will be integrated into EFCM.