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Users Ponder Life Under Brocade

Between making acquisitions and expanding into areas like WAFS, McData users are concerned Brocade will be too distracted by integration issues to deal with customer issues and support. (See Brocade Bags McData For $713M and Brocade Buys McData.)

"Pulling in McData seems to be stretching Brocade's focus," warns Jackson Shea, co-founder of the Portland Storage Networking User Group (SNUG) and a storage administrator at an Oregon-based firm. For example, "Brocade has been stretching into the WAN acceleration space with the Tapestry product line," he explains. (See Brocade Unrolls Tapestry , Brocade CTO Looking at Data Center, and Nortel Embeds Brocade Tech.)

Shea, who uses a total of 1,200 McData ports across three separate sites, is less bullish about the deal with Brocade than the two companies' executives. "McData has been the Ford truck of the storage switch world. It's rock-solid and dependable," he says. "Brocade hasn't had the same reputation for some time."

Another McData customer says he's also concerned over the amount of attention Brocade will devote to McData. "There is some concern about that," says Mike Campbell, director of PC systems at University of New Mexico (UNM) Hospitals, adding that it is too early to tell how much of a problem this will be.

One issue that appears to unite both Brocade and McData users is the problem of dwindling competition, with Cisco now offering the only big-name switch alternative to a combined Brocade-McData. "The more choices out there, usually you get a bit better price performance and also more technology being developed," explains Campbell, who uses a McData Intrepid director and five Sphereon switches within his infrastructure. (See McData Wins in New Mexico.)

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