Cisco recently swept the FCoE Switch Brand Leader Awards for the second year in a row, based on responses from IT professionals who participated in an IT Brand Pulse Brand Leader Survey. The results demonstrate that the IT community recognizes the leadership role Cisco has played in converged networking and FCoE.
Converged Networking is a new supermarket being formed by the merger of the Ethernet, Fibre Channel and InfiniBand markets. One of the technologies making this possible is Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), a new protocol that allows Fibre Channel traffic to run over Ethernet.
Among the many companies involved in creating the new market, Cisco stands out for industry leadership. The company was first-to-market with pre-standard ASICs, adapters and Nexus switches, which started to appear in 2008. Distinguished engineers from Cisco were at the center of developing the standards that ultimately were approved in 2009. And Cisco has been at the forefront of providing education to IT professionals about converged networking and FCoE. For over a year, Cisco Nexus switches were the only products available with support for FCoE. As a result, the Nexus brand became a de facto standard for FCoE switches and Cisco established early incumbency in data centers evaluating converged networking.
In the recent IT Brand Pulse survey that included 7 vendors, Cisco dominated all FCoE Switch categories for the second year in a row by winning the Market Leader Award, and took the five remaining Brand Leader Awards (Price, Performance, Reliability, Service & Support, and Innovation).
The latest survey suggests that for FCoE switches, a perception of Reliability Leadership drives a perception of Market Leadership. The highest scores in the 2009 and 2010 surveys were in the Market Leadership category. The 2010 results under-pinned the importance of reliability to overall Switch market leadership. The largest gap (30%) between leader and second place and the second highest score, was in the category of Reliability.
In the 2010 survey just conducted, perceptions of Price Leader changed significantly. In 2009, 47% of the respondents selected Brocade as the price leader for FCoE Switches. In the 2010 survey, less than 20% of the respondents selected Brocade as the price leader. Since the general availability of the Brocade 8000 to OEM partners since April, 2010, perceptions of Brocade Price Leadership changed significantly.
The survey also unveiled IT's view of HP's and Juniper's role in the converged networking market. IT professionals perceived HP as 3rd in almost every category in spite of the fact HP resells products from others.
On Interbrand's list of 2010 Best Global Brands, Cisco ranked #14 ahead of BMW, Nike, Pepsi, American Express, and numerous other powerhouse brands. The FCoE Switch Brand Leader award shows that Cisco is again paying off on their brand promise standards-based technology, high quality products, and great customer support.
The bottom line is this: if IT buying behavior reflects their perception of Cisco FCoE switch brand leadership, Ethernet switch vendors such as Avaya, Extreme, Force10 Networks, HP and Juniper, who are newcomers to FCoE switching, are going to find it difficult to unseat this incumbent.