Brocade Targets the Low-End Market

Storage switch maker brocade Communications Systems Inc. is taking aim at the low-end market with the release last week of its first 2G-bps product.

Storage switch maker brocade Communications Systems Inc. is taking aim at the low-end market with the release last week of its first 2G-bps product.

The San Jose, Calif., company debuted the SilkWorm 3200, an eight-port version of its flagship 128-port SilkWorm 12000.

Except for the size and the lack of the 12000s high-availability and failover features, the products are essentially the same inside, said Steve Beer, director of volume hardware platforms for Brocade.

But the 3200 device is not a response to the recent industry criticism of Brocade for its limited success with the 12000, Beer said. In smaller organizations and even in large enterprises, "youll always need an edge switch," he said.

Brocade also hopes some customers will buy the 3200 and then grow into its higher-end products, he said.

Mike Conklin, open-systems architect for grocery store chain Royal Ahold N.V., runs about 60 terabytes of storage on IBM equipment.

"Brocade really had what we felt was the lead," said Conklin, in Greenville, S.C. "Scalability is obviously really high on the list; price point obviously makes a difference. [Also] one of the things that mattered when we identified the [storage area network] design was they had reps on site."

But, he said, some of the industry criticism of Brocade is valid.

"Probably the biggest discouragement weve had would be the time to market. Thats really put a constraint on us," Conklin said.

The new product will cost "well under $1,000 a port," although channel partners such as Compaq Computer Corp, Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM will determine the exact pricing, according to Beer.

There will be nine channel partners in all; the final street price will be competitive with that of rival QLogic Corp.s eight-port 2G-bps product, which is in the range of $600 to $700.

Brocade will gradually phase out its 1G-bps series, but the new products are backward-compatible, Beer said.