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HP & Brocade $ecure $ANs

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) today is rolling out new security options for Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) switches that will let customers lock down their Fibre Channel fabrics.

But HP is pricing the security option -- which prevents unauthorized users from making configuration changes to the SAN infrastructure -- at high entry points: Licensing fees for the Brocade Secure Fabric OS software range from $4,400 for an eight-port switch up to $35,000 for two 64-port SilkWorm 12000s. That works out to between $270 and $550 per port.

HP will deliver the Secure Fabric OS through its professional services, adding even more to the cost of the solution.

Why not just make the security features a standard part of the switch, instead of charging an arm and a leg for it? Because Brocade, for one, relies on such software upgrades to help boost its overall margins. In addition, Brocade and its partners can get away with charging extra for it because the feature is unique in the market today: No other switch vendor provides the same level of strong user and device authentication (see Brocade Upgrades Fabric OS).

Roger Archibald, VP of the infrastructure and NAS division of HP's storage networking group, says the price of the security options must be put into the context of the cost of the overall switch. "You're talking about a $35,000 option for a switch that can be $300,000," he says. [Ed. note: Well, then, it's a marvelous bargain!]

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