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Brocade Communications Systems

Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. is an American multinational corporation and a technology company specializing in data and storage networking products. The company's product portfolio spans across Enterprise Ethernet (LAN, WLAN) Switches, WAN (Internet) Routers, SAN Switches, Application Delivery Controllers, Network Security Appliances, Ethernet/Storage Network Adapters and PHY Transceivers. Founded in 1995, Brocade Communications is headquartered in San Jose, California, USA. , the company holds the largest market share in SAN switches.[1]



Brocade was founded in August 1995, by Seth Neiman (a venture capitalist, a former executive from Sun Microsystems and a professional racer), Kumar Malavalli (a noted technology entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-author of the Fiber Channel technology) and Paul R. Bonderson (a former executive from Intel Corporation and Sun Microsystems). Seth Neiman became the first CEO of the company.

The company's first product, SilkWorm, which was a Fiber Channel Switch, was released in early 1997.

Incorporation and IPO

Brocade was incorporated on May 14, 1999, in Delaware. On May 25, 1999, the company went public at a split-adjusted price of $4.75. On Initial Public Offering (IPO) 3,250,000 shares were offered with an additional 487,500 shares offered to the underwriters to cover over-allotments. The top 3 underwriters, based on number of shares, for Brocade's IPO were, in order, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, BT Alex.Brown, & Dain Rauscher Wessels.

Brocade stock is traded in the National Market System of the NASDAQ GS stock market, under the ticker symbol BRCD.

Brocade Products

Brocade SAN/Storage Products

Brocade's first Fiber Channel switch SilkWorm 1000 (SW1000) (released in 1997) was based on the "Stitch" ASIC and their own VxWorks-based firmware (Fabric OS or FOS). SilkWorm eventually came to be a long-lived marketing designation for an entire line of products, with the first product being retro-named the SilkWorm 1000 (SW1000) to distinguish it from subsequent platforms. Bruce Bergman was the CEO during most of this period. Product names were generally puns on various kinds of woven fabric, since a switched Fibre Channel network is also called a "fabric".

In 1998, Gregory Reyes joined the company as CEO. In 2001, Brocade released the SilkWorm 6400, which was designated "director" similarly[2] to IBM ESCON directors already well-established[3] on mainframe computer market. The term "director" became universally used for more expensive FC switches.[4]

From 2001 to 2003, Brocade released switches based on its third generation ASIC, "BLOOM" (Big LOOM). BLOOM introduced increased throughput of 2 Gbit/s instead of 1 Gbit/s. Brocade integrated BLOOM into its first "pure" director, the SilkWorm 12000, in April 2002. The director offered up to 128 ports in two 64-port pseudo-switches (domains). The 12000 represented several internal architecture and technical changes besides the new ASIC: it had an upgraded control processor architecture (Intel i960 moved to PowerPC 405GP), changed the embedded operating system (FOS v4.0 migrated from Wind River Systems VxWorks to MontaVista Linux), and introduced the backplane architecture (hierarchical PCI buses with replaceable blades attached to a backplane). The Bloom ASIC also introduced a notable capability of frame-level Fibre Channel trunking, which provided high throughput with load balancing across multiple cables. It needed to be implemented in the ASIC hardware to ensure in-order delivery of frames. Also hot firmware upgrade was introduced with FOS v4.1 in October 2003.

At the time, Brocade's main rival, McDATA, held over 90% market share in director segment, owing to strong position first in ESCON market and then in FICON market. The SilkWorm 12000 director gained over one-third of the market share after its release in 2002. Brocade added mainframe customers with FICON and FICON CUP support on the SilkWorm 12000.[5] In 2003, the SilkWorm 12000 was named Storage Product of the Year by Computing.[5]

In 2004, the BLOOM II improved on the previous ASIC design by reducing its power consumption and die size, while maintaining 2 Gbit/s technology. It powered Brocade s second generation director, the SilkWorm 24000. Still a 128 port design, it was the first one that could operate as a single 128-port switch (a single domain). The new director also used approximately two thirds less power than its predecessor. Brocade introduced also its first multiprotocol Fibre Channel router, the SilkWorm 7420. Brocade also acquired Rhapsody Networks (a SAN virtualization startup company). This was also the time frame in which Brocade first entered into the embedded switch market, delivering multiple switches physically integrated into other vendors' hardware, such as storage controllers and blade server chassis.

As of March 2009, Brocade had sold over 10 million SAN switch ports with over 44,000 directors installed, and held 75.5% of the overall SAN switch market (Dell'Oro Group, 1Q09 SAN Report).

In Late 2010 Brocade released the VCS product line. The individual products are identified by the VDX moniker. These are CEE/Data center bridging (DCB) and TRILL based switches allowing for multi-hop Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).

Brocade SAN ASICs

Brocade designs its proprietary Fiber Channel ASICs for performing switching functions in its SAN switches.

The first family of SAN switches, the SilkWorm 1000, released in 1997, were based on the first generation of Brocade ASICs, called Stitch. The SilkWorm 6400 series of SAN Director class switches and SilkWork 2400/2800 switches, released in 1999, were based on the second generation of Brocade ASICs, called LOOM. The SilkWorm 12000/24000 SAN Directors and SilkWorm 3200/3800/3850 SAN switches, released in 2001, were based on the third generation of Brocade ASICs called BLOOM and BLOOM-II. The fourth generation of ASICs, called Condor and GoldenEye (scaled-down Condor), powered the SilkWorm 48000 series of Directors, 7500, FR4-18i Director blades and SilkWorm 4100/4900/200E series of switches respectively. These products were released into the market in 2004. The fifth and current generation of Brocade ASICs (designed in 2008) are called Condor 2 and Golden Eye 2. Condor 2 supports 40 ports of 8 Gbit/s per ASIC and GoldenEye 2 supports 24 ports of 8 Gbit/s. These ASICs are used in the DCX Backbone Directors and 5100/5300 Switches.

Summary of Brocade SAN products

Brocade hardware products include Fibre Channel switches and directors; Ethernet switches and routers; application delivery controllers (load balancers, etc.); fabric extension switches; embedded switch blades; Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs); and Converged Network Adapters (CNAs). Other hardware solutions from Brocade support common protocols that include iSCSI, FCIP, GigE, FICON, FCoE, CEE, and Layer 2-7 networking protocols.

Brocade name Brocade
McDATA name
Max. port
speed (Gb/s)
Max. ports IBM reseller
HP reseller
EMC Connectrix
1000 1 ? ? ? ? ?
2000 7 ? ? ? ? ?
2800 2, 6 1 16 2109-S16 16B DS-16B
3000 18 ? ? ? ? ?
3014 33 ? ? ? ? ?
3016 22 ? ? ? ? ?
3200 16 2 8 3534-F08 2/8 DS-8B2
3250 27 2 8 2005-H08 2/8V ?
3800 9 2 16 2109-F16 2/16 DS-16B2
3800VL 17 ? ? ? ? ?
3850 26 2 16 2005-H16 2/16V DS-16B3
3900 12 2 32 2109-F32 2/32 DS-32B2
12000 10 2 2 x 64 2109-M12 2/64 ED-12000-B
24000 21 4 128 2109-M14 2/128 ED-24000B
48000 42 4 384 2109-M48 4/256 ED-48000B
200E 34 4 16 2005-B16 4/16 DS-220B
4100 32 4 32 2005-B32 4/32 DS-4100B
4900 44 4 64 2005-B64 4/64 DS-4900B
5000 58 4 32 2005-B5K 4/32B DS-5000B
AP-7420 ? 4 16 2109-A16 ? ?
7500 46 4 16 2005-R18 400 MPR ?
7600 app 55.2 4 16 ? ? ?
DCX 62 8 768 2499-384 DC Backbone ED-DCX-B
300 71 8 24 2498-24E 8/24 DS-300B
5100 66 8 40 2498-B40 8/40 DS-5100B
5300 64 8 80 2498-B80 8/80 DS-5300B
VA-40FC ? 8 40 ? ? ?
Mi10K Intrepid 10000 10 256 2027-256 ? ED-10000M
M6140 Intrepid 6140 10 140 2027-140 2/140 ED-140M
? ED-6064 10 64 2032-064 2/64 ED-64M
? Sphereon 4300 2 12 2026-E12 ? ?
M4400 Sphereon 4400 4 16 2026-416 ? DS-4400M
? Sphereon 4500 2 24 2026-224 ? DS-24M2
M4700 Sphereon 4700 4 32 2026-432 ? DS-4700M
? Sphereon 3232 2 32 2027-232 ? DS-32M2
? ES-3016 1 16 2031-016 ? DS-16M
? ES-3032 1 32 2031-032 ? DS-32M
? ES-3216 2 16 2031-216 ? DS-16M2

Dell PowerConnect B-series

Besides selling these switches under their own name, some models are also sold as Dell PowerConnect-B series switches.[8] Dell retains more or less the Brocade's model name. Unlike the own switches with different software images for Ethernet-switches being used as a layer-2 switch or layer-3 router the firmware for the B-series PowerConnect switches is a combined firmware. The switches can also run the layer 4-7 switching firmware from Brocade to use these switches as hardware-based network load balancer

Besides the pure Ethernet-switches (which are originally Foundry switches as B-ML, B-MX and B-FCX switches,[8] Dell also offers Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Fibre Channel switches:

  • B-DCX chassis-switches for fibre-channel at 1, 2, 4 and 8 Gbit/s[9]
  • M5424 blade for the Dell M1000e blade-chassis offering FCoE capabilities for blade-servers with 16 internal 10 Gbit/s FCoE interfaces and 8 external 8 Gbit/s FC interfaces as well as external 10 Gbit/s ports[10]
  • B5300 80 port Fibre Channel switch: 80 port 8 Gbit/s FC switch[11]
  • B5100 40 port Fibre Channel switch: 40 port 8 Gbit/s FC switch[12]
  • B300 24 port FC switch[13]
  • B8000/B8000e: top-of-rack FCoE switch[14]
  • Brocade 1020 CNA: FCoE 10 Gigabit Ethernet Converged Network Adapter
  • Brocade 815 and 825 Host Bus Adaptor for pure FibreChannel networks

Brocade Ethernet Switches and Routers

Brocade entered into the Enterprise, Campus and Carrier Ethernet Switches/Routers market through its acquisition of Foundry Networks in 2008.

In May 2009, Brocade unveiled its ServerIron ADX series of Application Delivery Controllers for the evolving dynamic data center segment. The product move came when enterprises and service providers, were feeling the pressure from business demands and the global recession, and were looking to reduce their capital and operating costs while increasing performance. The chassis models were claimed to offer interchangeable modules with up to 16 ports of 10G-bps fiber, and a high-density, multicore and multichip application processing plane for higher core density, performance improvements and core-based virtualization. According to Brocade officials, these new products offered high-density 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10G Ethernet capabilities, and twice the density of competitors, with 70G bps of Layer 4 and 7 application throughput.[15]

In September 2010, Brocade entered the 100 Gbit/s Ethernet arena with a high-density 32-port MLXe router chassis and a two-port 100G Ethernet module, targeted at service providers and data centers, claiming twice the 100G Ethernet density of Internet core routers from its competitors Cisco and Juniper. Along with it, the company also released the Brocade Network Advisor application for managing IP, storage, MPLS, application delivery and wireless elements in converged service provider and data center networks. As of January 2012, Brocade is ahead of the 100Gbit/s Ethernet race with maximum deployments across the world.[16]

In November 2011, Brocade released the ICX 6610 family of Ethernet switches for the campus networking segment, with a maximum switching capacity of 576 Gbit/s and forwarding capacity of 432 Mbit/s with PoE+.[17]


The Brocade product portfolio also includes network management applications.

  • SAN Management Software
    • Data Center Fabric Manager (DCFM)
    • Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM) (from McDATA)
    • Fabric Manager
    • Host Connectivity Manager (HCM)
    • SAN Health
  • SAN Application Modules
    • Data Migration Manager (DMM)
  • IP Network Management Software
    • IronView Network Manager (INM)

Awards and recognition

  • 2002
    • Brocade Wins Product of the Year from Storage Magazine and
  • 2003
    • Innovative Technology of the Year from ComputerWorld
    • Brocade 3800 Finalist in Network Computing "Well Connected" Awards
    • Brocade 3900 Chosen as Finalist in Datamation Product of the Year (Storage Category)
    • Brocade 12000 Director wins Product of the Year Award at Paris Data Storage Forum
  • 2004
    • Brocade MultiProtocol Router wins Product of the Year Award at Paris Data Storage Forum
  • 2005
    • Search Storage Gold Award: Mi10K
    • Well-Connected Award: SANavigator
    • StorageX Wins Network Magazine Innovation Award
    • StorageX Earns "Excellent" Rating from Redmond Most Valuable Product Evaluation
    • Brocade Router Wins Best FC Product of the Year
  • 2006
    • InfoWorld Technology of the Year Award: Mi10K
    • Brocade SAN Director Wins Gold for Storage Product of the Year
    • InfoStor MVP Award for the Brocade 48000
    • Big Bytes SAN Award for Brocade 4900
  • 2010
    • 2010 Voted Number 1 Best Places to Work in the Bay Area
    • 2010 Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For
  • 2011
    • 2011 Fortune Magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For
  • 2012
    • Brocade 1860 Fabric Adapter wins Storage magazine/ 2011 Storage Networking Equipment Gold Product of the Year
    • Brocade 6510 Switch wins Storage magazine/ 2011 Storage Networking Equipment Silver Product of the Year

Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures

  • 2003 Rhapsody Networks
  • 2005 Therion Software Corporation
  • 2006 NuView, Inc. Develops software solutions for enterprise file data management.
  • 2007 Silverback Systems, Inc. Provides network acceleration technologies.
  • 2007 McDATA. Key competitor in the Fibre Channel switch and director market.
  • 2008 Strategic Business Systems. Storage professional services company.
  • 2008 Foundry Networks. Ethernet Switches and Routers Maker.

Of note is that acquisition of Foundry at a price of approximately $2.6 Billion in December 2008 [18] resulted in approximately $2B in goodwill moving to Brocade's asset sheets, of which approximately $1.8B still remained as of Q42011.[19]


Within the Ethernet/IP networking market, Brocade competes with the following companies :

  • A10 Networks
  • Arista Networks
  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Cisco Systems
  • Dell, Inc. (post their acquisition of Force10 Networks)
  • Enterasys Networks
  • Extreme Networks
  • F5 Networks
  • Hewlett-Packard Company (post their acquisition of 3com Corporation)
  • Huawei Technologies
  • IBM Corporation (post their acquisition of Blade Network Technologies)
  • Juniper Networks
  • Avaya

Within the Storage Area Network (SAN) market, Brocade competes with the following companies :

  • Cisco Systems
  • Emulex
  • QLogic


In 2005, Gregory Reyes resigned as CEO after being indicted for securities fraud relating to backdating stock option grants. After spending about a year investigating these allegations, the Department of Justice (DoJ), through the US Attorney s Office, the SEC, and the FBI filed criminal and civil charges against Reyes. In roughly the same time frame, the DoJ, SEC, and FBI also began investigating over 100 other companies for similar activities. Greg Reyes and Stephanie Jensen, the former vice president of HR, were charged with 12 counts of fraud.[20] Two counts were dismissed, and on August 7, 2007, Reyes was convicted on the remaining 10 counts.[21] On January 16, 2008, he was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay a $15 million dollar fine.[22] Stephanie Jensen, Brocade's former vice president of human resources, was convicted in a separate trial.[23] On March 19, 2008, she was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $1.25 million fine.[24] The convictions of both Reyes and Jensen were appealed.[25] On August 18, 2009 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned Gregory Reyes' convictions and sent the case back to the lower courts for retrial, where he was again convicted, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $10 million fine.[26] Reyes was incarcerated at the Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, California, with an anticipated release date of December 29, 2011.[27] , a second appeal remains pending.[28]

See also


External links

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