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Brocade Launches Meteor

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) demonstrated today that, contrary to industry rumblings, it's not giving up on the director switch market to concentrate on the low end (see Brocade & McData's Paths Diverge).

The switch market leader released the SilkWorm 24000, its highest-end platform yet, formerly code-named Meteor, a non-blocking, full-duplex switch that one Brocade source says storage vendors will probably price about 15 percent higher than the vendor's Silkworm 12000 (see Brocade Intros New SilkWorm Director).

But rather than try to make its mark with technological advantages over the competition, Brocade is counting on its new switch to keep customers from switching vendors. The new director has no new features that competitors Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) or McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) lack. Instead, it addresses previous limits in Brocade's SilkWorm 12000, a move Brocade hopes will divert any potential defections.

For instance, the SilkWorm 24000 is a single-domain, 128-port switch. Current Brocade customers have to daisy-chain two 64-port SilkWorm 12000 switches to get 128 ports. The new switch helps mainframe customers scale their wares, since they are typically limited to two director switches.

These are features already supported by Cisco and McData. But Brocade is looking to win market share in the high end by leveraging its dominance in the low end and midrange, ensuring customers don't go to its competitors for features they now have with Brocade as well. Further, it's touting its platform as a launching pad for advanced features.

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