Where will Brocade focus its efforts? It will press on with DCX and FCoE and its HBA/converged network adapter strategy. It may well take on thrusting Ethernet suppliers such as Blade Network Technologies but an issue is intelligence in the network.
Presently there is a lot of SAN intelliegence in Brocade's directors and the DCX. Will this survive the transition to FCoE? Cisco has yet to show signs of transitioning its MDS storage switching functionality into its Ethernet switches. This SAN intelligence is something that Brocade can use, either to make a block storage-aware Ethernet switch or to push downstream, in whole or part, to a virtual switch running as a VMware virtual machine or its equivalent in a Hyper-V environment.
The ability to provide a single Ethernet networking 'pipe'' to a hypervisor and carve it up dynamically into differently sized chunks with diffferent qualities of service for different VMs looks to be something that will be needed by hypervisors, either directly or via API access to an Ethernet switch. Distributing virtual desktop images across the network could be another focus within the overall virtualisation play.
If Cisco starts introducing its own servers in competition to Dell, HP and IBM then Brocade should find it easier to talk to the server vendors about populating their blade servers with its Ethernetworking front-end gear such as HBAs and NICs and putting its bladed switches into their blade infrastructure.
It's going to be an interesting 2009 but don't expect fast fireworks. The recession will limit expenditures and Brocade will spend many months absorbing Foundry and bringing the two companies together. It's got experience at this, having digested McData in the past.
The data centre server and storage chess board has now got a new player and the existing Ethernet suppliers will, you might think, be keen to push their own products and strategies whilst Brocade goes through the Foundry digestion process. They might make headline-grabbing announcements whilst Brocade is pre-occupied and try to push the company on the backfoot. Cisco probably has a Brocade-Foundry competition team already pushing buttons and Cisco is where announcement fireworks might come from, particularly around the twin axes of FCoE and virtualisation. ®