A new stitch for Brocade

  • On a drive to expand partner network
  • New data centers and refresh cycles to be key

COMPANIES like Brocade – so long hidden in the backrooms of the Information Technology (IT) world – are repositioning themselves to take advantage of the continuing role virtualization is playing in cloud computing, as well as an ambitious plan by the Malaysian Government to position the country as a regional data center hub.

San Jose, California-based Brocade Brocade Communications Systems Inc was founded in 1995 specializing in storage area networks (SANs), which allowed, in layman’s terms, storage resources to be shared across the IT infrastructure. In the last few years, it has been making acquisitions, forming partnerships and developing technologies to allow it provide a complete suite of network solutions.

A new stitch for BrocadeThanks to moves like the 2008 US$2.6 billion of Foundry, which added an entire line of networking gear to its portfolio, the company believes it can grab a piece of a much larger pie.

“Three years ago, we were a 70% to 80% [market share] player in a US$4 billion space; that acquisition has propelled us into a US$35-billion market,” says K.P. Unnikrishnan (pic), Asia Pacific director of marketing at Brocade.

“While 60-65% of our overall revenues still come from the SAN space, the other 35-40% is what we grew in the last three years by investing heavily in people and channels,” he says, adding that the company has increased its number of employees globally from 4,000 to 5,000 in the past one year.

Brocade earlier this month announced that for its second-quarter ended April 28, profit rose 51% to US$39.3 million, up from US$26.1 million a year earlier. The company in February forecast revenue between US$530 million and US$545 million.

A Brocade spokesman said the company has been aggressively growing its business in Asia Pacific, supported by a US$100 million investment commitment to the regional IT industry to accelerate Ethernet fabric adoption and drive further migration to cloud architectures. Its Asia business grew 28% year-on-year, he added.

“We’ve been identifying key players around the region, and have grown our partner community here to 50-0 companies, of which about a dozen are in Malaysia,” says Unnikrishnan.

Data center drive

The company sees huge potential in the data center market in Malaysia, he adds. Indeed, Unnikrishnan was speaking to Digital News Asia on the sidelines of the IT Strategies 2012: Data Center Summit & Info Security Conference held recently in Kuala Lumpur. The company was one of the primary sponsors of the show, organized by Questex Asia Pte Ltd.

A new stitch for BrocadeMaking Malaysia a preferred destination for data centers is one of the key thrusts of the Government’s Economic Transformation Program (ETP), says Datuk Badlisham Ghazali (pic), chief executive officer of the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the country’s ICT custodian.

The ETP aims to transform Malaysia into a high-income economy by doubling the country's per-capita income to US$15,000 by 2020.

“Data centers are effectively invisible in the eyes of the typical person and most don’t realize how critical they are to their modern, communications-rich lifestyles and businesses,” says Badlisham, who was a keynote speaker at the Data Center Summit.

“As our lifestyles and businesses become more digital, we are going to depend more and more on data centers.
“Under the ETP, the data center industry is considered part of the Business Services National Key Economic Area (NKEA), and has a dedicated Entry Point Project which aims to position Malaysia as a world-class data center hub,” he adds.

The Government expects this sector to contribute a gross national income (GNI) of RM2.4 billion (US$807.5 million) and create some 13,290 jobs by 2020. It targets to data center floor-space to 2.5 million square feet by 2015 and 5 million square feet by 2020.

Game’s afoot in Malaysia

Brocade recently named Sean Ong as its country manager for Malaysia and appointed Springlab Distribution Sdn Bhd as an Alliance Partner Network (APN) Distributor.

Springlab will distribute Brocade’s complete IP product range to its network of resellers across the country, including Ethernet fiber channel and converged switches, a complete family of Ethernet routers for enterprise, data center and service provider networks, mobility wireless LAN (WLAN) controllers, network management software solutions, server connectivity solutions, mobility security appliances, and others.

A new stitch for BrocadeOng (pic) has ambitious plans for its partner network here. The company has three levels of partners, depending on their resources and their certification levels, which are in ascending order Select, Premier and Elite.

“We have 30 Select partners here, and I aim to have 50 by the end of this year,” he says. This is in addition to Select partners that may be upgraded to the next level.

“We have five Premier partners and I intend to have 15 by the end of the year, and increase the number of Elites from two to five within the same timeframe.”

The key Malaysian markets Ong sees are the public sector, media and entertainment, telecommunications service providers and of course, data centers. He says the public sector traditionally makes up 30% to 40% of its business here.

“There are quite a number of new data centers coming into the game, and even the older ones are approaching the time when they would need to refresh,” says Unnikrishnan. “In fact, the refresh market may make up 60% to 70% of our business here in the next year.”

“Malaysia’s adoption of Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6), which unusually for most countries is being driven by the Government, will also see the need for more Ethernet switches,” he says, a key market for the company.

It’s raining cloud

The cloud is also going to figure largely in Brocade’s future. Unnikrishnan says that the company’s nearly 5,000 customers in Asia Pacific have almost all have a cloud strategy in place, or are in the process of formulating one.

The company also expects enterprises from outside the IT sector look to leveraging their data center environments to offer cloud services as an additional revenue stream, and would therefore need the right architecture in place.

As businesses in Malaysia increasingly view their network as a critical asset, Brocade's Fiber Channel and Ethernet fabric networking solutions can help reduce complexity and support new and distributed applications, while providing new levels of uptime and an open, multi-vendor architecture that protects their IT investments, the company claims.

Globally, Brocade also recently announced its participation in a new EMC initiative to deliver Proven Infrastructure solutions for customers looking to make the transition to virtualization and the cloud.

“This reference architecture initiative with EMC would also help address the small and medium business or mid-market,” says Unnikrishnan.

The new EMC VSPEX Proven Infrastructure, available only through the EMC's Velocity Program channel partners, can combine Brocade cloud-optimized networking technologies with EMC unified storage and next generation backup architecture, while enabling customers to leverage their server and hypervisor of choice, Brocade said in a statement.

"EMC's move toward offering modular, pre-validated virtualization solutions fully aligns with our strategy and philosophy to enable its partners to create open, multi-vendor solutions that help customers make a smooth transition toward the cloud," says Ong.

Brocade has announced the availability of programs designed to assist and reward resellers in the selling of VSPEX solutions, including discounts and specialized bonuses.

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