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IBM, Brocade OEM Deal Challenges Cisco

When it became evident that Cisco's Unified Computing System would muscle in on IBM's server business, IT industry wags began counting the days to when IBM would respond by moving more aggressively into Cisco's territory.

So no one was surprised when IBM extended its OEM relationship with Brocade Communications on Tuesday in a deal that will see IBM use its presence in data centers to market Brocade Ethernet routers and switches in Cisco's traditional technology stronghold.

IBM, which has had an OEM agreement in place with Brocade for years, will rebrand and sell Brocade enterprise IP networking products. The previous IBM-Brocade deal primarily covered storage area networking products.

"This agreement supports IBM's view of networking as an integral component of our dynamic infrastructure initiative, which helps customers manage the convergence of business and IT infrastructures," Barry Rudolph, IBM's system storage VP, said in a statement.

IBM has been rebranding Brocade data center networking products, including Brocade's Fibre Channel directors, switches, and host bus adaptors. The Brocade Ethernet routers and switches involved in the new OEM agreement beefs up the companies' joint enterprise IP networking portfolio.

The new products include Brocade's NetIron line, which will be offered by IBM as m-series and c-series Ethernet routers and switches. Brocade's FastIron line will appear as IBM s-series and g-series Ethernet switches.

The strong storage component to the IBM-Brocade relationship is mirrored to a degree by Cisco's close relationship with storage giant EMC.

There's also a what-goes-around-comes-around angle to the IBM-Brocade agreement: IBM sold much of its switch and router intellectual property to Cisco a few years ago.

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