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Brocade Buy Would Heighten HP, Cisco Rivalry

The growing competition between Cisco and Hewlett-Packard would likely heat up if the latter company was to buy storage-networking vendor Brocade, an IT research firm said Tuesday.

HP's interest in Brocade was reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal, which quoted anonymous sources as saying Brocade was considering putting itself up for sale. Other potential suitors included Oracle.

Brocade has declined comment on the report. But in analyzing a HP-Brocade combination, TheInfoPro said Brocade's technology would be complementary to HP's business, and would position it in "even more direct competition with Cisco." HP already resells Brocade products, as does IBM, EMC, and NetApp.

The rivalry between Cisco and HP has been heating up as both companies try to lure customers with data center systems that incorporate storage, computing, and networking in a single unit. Cisco calls its offering the Unified Computing System and HP's is the BladeSystem Matrix.

Overall, acquiring Brocade would boost several of HP's key technology areas: 10 gigabit server connectivity, gigabit Ethernet to the desktop, 4 gigabit per second Fibre Channel, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, N Port ID Virtualization for Virtualized I/O, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet, TheInfoPro said.

In addition, the combined company would feed the desire of some potential customers to reduce the number of vendors they use, the research firm said.

As to Oracle buying Brocade, TheInfoPro report said that would only make sense if Oracle is committed to keeping Sun Microsystems' hardware business. Oracle is in the process of buying Sun for $7.4 billion.

InformationWeek's Informed CIO series lays out 10 questions to ask before proceeding with data center automation. Download the report here (registration required).