Brocade unexpected subject of M&A rumours

The current bout of vendor consolidation could continue into the autumn after reports emerged over the weekend that Brocade has quietly put itself on the market.

The current bout of vendor consolidation could continue into the autumn after reports emerged over the weekend that Brocade has quietly put itself on the market.

In the past fortnight Cisco, Dell and Xerox forked out billions of dollars for video-conferencing specialist Tandberg, integrator Perot Systems and services outfit Affiliated Computer Services (ACS)respectively.

Quoting a source familiar with the situation, the Wall Street Journal named Hewlett-Packard and Oracle as rivals for Brocade's affections, but stressed a deal is neither imminent nor assured.

HP is known to be keen to bulk up its ProCurve networking division as the unit goes up against Cisco, while Oracle could be keen to add some more storage firepower to its recent acquisition of Sun.

Any deal struck would be potentially traumatic for Brocade's nascent channel; the vendor muscled in on the data centre networking market last year when it bought Foundry Networks, and has spent lavishly on coaxing a reseller programme into life.

Questions must therefore be asked as to whether Brocade would stand to see its hard work messed around through another tortuous integration process.

Bob Tarzey, service director at industry analysis house Quocirca, saw further issues arising from Brocade's OEM-style approach to storage.

"If one hardware vendor was looking to acquire the storage networking assets of Brocade they would have to manage a range of long-term OEM contracts with their competitors," he said.

Brocade's OEM partner list reads like a who's who of the SAN world, including Dell, EMC, HDS, HP, IBM and NetApp to name but a few.

Brocade declined to comment, saying it does not discuss speculation, and neither HP nor Oracle have yet broken cover.

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