After Cisco, Brocade offers the next broadest and most tested sets of networking solutions and management applications for local, metro and wide-area networks (LANs/MANs/WANs), as well as storage-area networks (SANs), says Kindness. "Even though it took Brocade two years to launch Brocade One, its vision and strategy for a next generation network, the company is rolling out converged hardware and a converged management platform for LAN and SAN that can integrate into larger IT management solutions, a missing component in other vendors' portfolios. Brocade is proving its ability to execute by creating an end-to-end solution so quickly after announcing Brocade's One networking vision in June of 2010."
If you're looking to drive toward simplicity and automation in 12 or more months, then Juniper should be considered, he says. "After a two-year Stratus drought, Juniper came out swinging fast and hard in March. Their QFabric announcement brings an interesting approach to the data center network, which is the last hurdle in unlocking cloud economics. Even though Juniper still needs to release two more pieces of a three part solution, QFabric is the closet architecture that creates flat, high speed, and automated network."
For a best-of-breed solution, Kindness recommends Arista Networks. He says the company created its products specifically around supporting high data center networks, and the team brings any customer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. "Even with a limited set of products and low amount of marketing dollars, Arista Networks has eaten some of the other vendors' lunches in the financial market."
For those looking for a vendor that is thinking about the bigger picture, he suggests Avaya. "The transformation in the data center is only one part of network evolution. Avaya's VENA takes the best aspects of the data center network and takes it to the edge [server to user]. Coming from the application and services side of the IT industry, Avaya has a more insight on what the network should be doing for the business, not just the data center or a particular application."
Kindness says HP isn't on the data center network short list because, until recently, its commitment to networking was half-hearted--it was a leading reseller of Cisco switches and disregarded its homegrown line, ProCurve. "That has now all changed, with its networking division placed firmly in the center of HP's enterprise servers and storage, along with its acquisition of 3Com."