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Brocade Reupholsters Rhapsody

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) has moved quickly to assimilate Rhapsody Networks, the multiprotocol storage virtualization switch startup it acquired in November (see Brocade Scoops Up Rhapsody, Sources: Brocade to Buy Rhapsody, and Brocade Completes Rhapsody Buy).

But pretty much all it seems to have done is put a fresh coat of Brocade-style marketing paint on the Rhapsody technology, which it has renamed the SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform, and guarantee that the Rhapsody switch will interoperate with Brocade's other SilkWorm Fibre Channel switches. To hear company executives tell it, though, this repositioning is actually an important step in its strategy to convince major storage vendors to resell the switch.

"Nobody wants to buy mission-critical infrastructure from a startup," says Dave Stevens, director of business development in Brocade's fabric application platform division, who held a similar position at Rhapsody prior to the acquisition.

To date, the only OEM to buy in to the switch -- at least publicly -- is Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), which last month announced it would use the Rhapsody switch to coalesce its virtualization strategy. But HP had already done extensive work with Rhapsody prior to the Brocade acquisition and appears to have made its decision independently (see HP Picks Rhapsody).

Questions left hanging are whether other OEMs will go for the virtualization switch, and how Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) Andiamo virtualization technology will vie with it in the market (see Cisco Takes Spinnaker for a Spin and Cisco Ducks the Veritas Question).

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