The burgeoning market for bare-metal Ethernet switches isn't bothering Brocade, according to A/NZ senior director Gary Denman.
Speaking to the media over a brace of start-of-year announcements, Denman said the bare-metal market, championed by Web giants like Facebook, remains a niche model.
While Brocade is aware that companies are looking to reduce their up-front network equipment capex, unless the user needs the deep access to networking silicon that the bare-metal model provides, there isn't much to differentiate a bare-metal switch.
The company's OpenDaylight-based Vyatta will run on bare metal, for example, but will still need to be installed and configured on each switch.
In the enterprise and carrier business, network automation is still a more important goal, and Denman said Brocade believes the combination of the company's subscription-model offerings for hardware as well as software will let it offer a competitive way to keep capex to a minimum.
Denman did, however, acknowledge that as more open standards take hold in the software-defined network (SDN) market, network hardware vendors will come under increasing competitive pressure.
Software like OpenDaylight is easily replaceable, he said, so vendors basing their offerings on open standards and open source software “have to deliver”.
Denman said Brocade is closely watching the virtual customer premises equipment (CPE) market, in the belief that it will be the segment where SDN starts to impact the enterprise market.
The virtual CPE world, Denman said, offers the programmability, remote control, and agility that carriers want to offer their customers.
For Brocade, the virtual CPE plays into the managed services market, letting a provider new services for a customer – extra bandwidth or value-adds – without a long provisioning lag.
“For example,” he said, “distributed customers can grow their footprint rapidly”, and since the Vyatta controller can run on small devices like Intel's Next Unit of Computing and still handle gigabits of traffic, customers can also “keep a spare in the cupboard”.
Brocade's key announcements were: