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Taneja Blog / Data Center Systems / Software Defined/Virtualized Infrastructure

Brocade/Virtual Instruments Brawl: Is it Really Necessary?

I recently came across an email note written by John Thompson, CEO of Virtual Instruments, a virtual infrastructure optimization vendor, to Mike Klayko, CEO of Brocade, clearly the major supplier of FC switches, HBAs, CNAs (and Ethernet equipment) to the market. The note was disturbing, to say the least, as it discusses how the relationship between the companies, which was excellent in the past, has deteriorated to the point where Brocade is essentially willing to tell customers and prospects not to use the Virtual Instrument's product. I believe this is not in the interest of the customer and frankly, not in the interest of Brocade either.

We have monitored Virtual Instruments pretty closely from the outset and have believed that their product provides unique real-time insights into the FC environment on a real time basis. These insights are used by the customer for diagnostic purposes, proactive problem avoidance, as well as deciphering application performance degradations. There are many other uses, including identifying configuration issues in the SAN when elements of the SAN are changed. Granted one can get rudimentary information from the switch itself, but there is no way one can get the microscopic real-time and historical data that the VI solution provides.

My team has talked to many Virtual Instrument's customers in the past few years, most of whom had (and have) Brocade switches. 100% of the customers we interviewed in 2010 were absolutely thrilled with the insight they got from the combination of Brocade switches and Virtual Instruments' VirtualWisdom software, hardware probes and fiber-optic TAPs. We have not heard of any information to the contrary since then. So why does Brocade want to "kill" a much smaller vendor (who has jointly sold a ton of equipment) by essentially trying to make them an "outcast." It makes no sense. The products are complementary and each adds value to the other. The only rationale that makes sense to us is that Brocade has a competitive product in the works. We are certainly aware of SAN Health and Net Health software products from Brocade but they only go so far without the accompanying hardware. Maybe Brocade has a hardware probe in the works? But if this is true why would Brocade not wait until it is ready to ship? At least until then the VI solution would best meet customer needs. And in any case, Brocade would have to deal with the questions that always come with rev 1 products. Net Net Brocade's strategy makes no sense.

Could there be another reason? Maybe it is personal. I hope not but if it is I hope both parties will remember that the customer is bigger than both of them. Yes, the customer is bigger than Brocade. I know it is hard to believe when you ship a ton of products and have 1000's of employees but we have all seen this movie before. Ultimately, the customer dictates what is right for them. And based on the information currently available we believe the customer is being short changed. And that is not good for Brocade or Virtual Instruments or anyone else, for that matter.

  • Premiered: 10/26/11
  • Author: Arun Taneja
Topic(s): Virtual Instruments VI Brocade VirtualWisdom

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