Brocade: Creating an Advantage in a New Adapter Market

| About: Brocade Communications (BRCD)

Brocade Communications (NASDAQ:BRCD) serves the data center, meaning the company is a high-performance networking company. Brocade is also still the new kid in town when it comes to network adapters. This means it can't be just as good as the competition, it has to be better.

So the company set out to prove its Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) are the fastest and on June 29th announced that Brocade 1000-series CNAs lead the industry with the highest IOPS and throughput performance. Brocade also announced its CNAs provided the easiest path for connecting servers to 10GbE LANs and to iSCSI and Fibre Channel SANs.

To generate test results that resemble what you would see in a data center, Brocade had an independent test house take the IOP and throughput numbers from a lab test and related those to Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Exchange - the most popular e-mail application and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) Database - the most popular database application.

According to the IT Brand Pulse performance test results, Brocade CNAs generated significantly more IOPS and better overall throughput than the competition in both FCoE and iSCSI environments. According to the performance test report, Brocade CNAs provided up to 131 percent higher IOPS at 8 KB when compared to the competition.

To test how easy it was to migrate to Brocade CNAs, the company had IT Brand Pulse upgrade servers from Fibre Channel HBAs to 10GbE CNAs. While I don't believe many data centers will rip-and-replace HBAs to get to a converged network, I know of a few customers that have. Plus I believe the exercise helped to flush out the difference between managing Fibre Channel and 10GbE SANs from three vendors. This is important because data center managers really like it when a product demonstrates backwards compatibility with products they already know how to install, tune and maintain.

In the migration test report, Brocade scored a perfect 10 on the IT Brand Pulse Migration Ease-o-Meter because the CNA drivers were pre-installed as part of the Fibre Channel HBA installation and because it was the only product with switch and CNA management behind one management console.

The new in kid town is staying ahead of the competition. The latest test results indicate that Brocade CNAs deliver best-in-class performance with Exchange and Oracle. They also show that migrating to a converged network with Brocade will be easiest, especially for the installed base of Brocade customers. And with Fibre Channel expected to dominate data center storage for many years to come, Brocade converged networking customers will benefit from a common management interface for Fibre Channel and FCoE, across switches and adapters.

The bottom line is Brocade is new to the Fibre Channel adapter market, but the company is entering the new market for converged networking adapters on a more equal basis. I expect Brocade to leverage the ubiquitous presence of its SAN switches to help the OEMs that have qualified Brocade CNAs, including EMC (EMC), Hitachi Data Systems (HIT), IBM (NYSE:IBM) and NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), to create end-user demand for a CNA that will fold seamlessly into the existing Brocade management framework. And based on a prior announcement, in the near future I'm expecting long-time customer Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) to offer Brocade CNAs as part of end-to-end converged networking solutions.

Disclosure: No Positions