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Sun to Resell Brocade Switches

The recently announced partnership between Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) is a shot in the arm for Brocade, but it could also be a kick in the slacks for QLogic Corp. (NASDAQ: QLGC).

The essence of the deal is that Sun will resell Brocade Silkworm 2400s and 2800s -- 8- and 16-port Fibre Channel (FC) switches, respectively (see Sun, Brocade Expand Alliance). It also will provide technical support and service for these switches through Sun's worldwide service organization (Enterprise Services, or "ES," if you want the Sun-speak).

The kicker here, and what makes the deal with Brocade significant, is that Sun already has 8- and 16-port FC switches in its quiver of SAN solutions -- based on a long-standing relationship with QLogic Corp., another SAN switch and component vendor. So, why Brocade?

Art Beckman, product line manager for SANs at Sun, says the deal allows Sun to provide better support for customers that select a switch from Brocade; he adds, however, that Sun's "preferred solution" is still the OEMed QLogic product.

Brocade's deal with Sun "can't help" but improve Brocade's sales, says John Webster, senior analyst and IT Advisor at Illuminata. "Sun is probably 40 percent or more of the UNIX market, so absolutely [it will help Brocade]. That's a big chunk of the market."