Brocade's CEO talks about McData integration

Brocade CEO Mike Klayko and vice president of worldwide marketing, Tom Buiocchi, recently spoke with Computerworld to clarify the companies' integration road map

Earlier this month, Brocade Communications Systems ran a full-page advertisement in The Wall Street Journal promising its customers and users of McData's director switches that once the merger between the two companies is completed sometime in the first quarter, Brocade will continue to service both vendors' current products for up to five years. The ad also promised a minimum of six months' advance notice before taking any product off the market. Brocade CEO Mike Klayko and Tom Buiocchi, vice president of worldwide marketing at San Jose-based Brocade, recently spoke with Computerworld to clarify the companies' integration road map.

Once the deal closes with McData, how long will it take to integrate the two companies?

Klayko: We're not waiting. We're doing some prework planning as best we can. We've actually put together a project office with a full-time integration team. A lot of this is around speed because you want to eliminate uncertainty and anxiety. So, the first thing we looked at is how do we do this for the customer. We went out and talked to customers -- our own customers and McData customers. We said, "We don't want to disrupt your business." That was first and foremost. We don't want to have any disruption. We have some direction, and it's pretty much around the director [switch] space.

Our future converged platforms going forward are more similar than different. Until we have that converged platform on that next generation of technology, what we're going to continue to do is support you on the Intrepid 6140, the Intrepid i10K and the SilkWorm 48000 [director-class switches].

So it's our intent that the day we close, we'll have a fully rationalized product line that we're going to communicate to the marketplace and to our customer base. Each and every person in the organization will understand their role. It's our intention to have this done at close. We're anticipating our first fiscal quarter.

So do you go forward with McData's director-class switch and admit that yours was inferior, lead with your director, or integrate the two?

Buiocchi: I wouldn't put our director technology as second to anyone's today. In looking at the road map for the two companies for the next-generation director, it was remarkably similar. They obviously know where we have some advantages, and we know where they have some advantages. The converged platform will embody the best of both company's technologies while maintaining backward compatibility with the i10K, the 6140 and the 48000.

So you're converging the three directors?

Buiocchi: We believe we can build a next-generation platform that embodies the best features of all of these while maintaining interoperability backward with all three of them. We're not settling. We're going to build the best director in the world.

Klayko: Rip and replace is a bad strategy in the director space.

Buiocchi: And just to be clear, we're talking about the 8Gbit/sec. time frame -- 2008 -- for that converged platform.

Both Brocade and McData have so-called intelligent switches. McData uses the chip from Aarohi Communications, and you use technology from Packeteer and Tacit Networks. Which one do you settle on?

Buiocchi: We're probably not going to announce the full product line until the day of close, but based on our first 100 calls to customers, it was all centered on the director. Solve the director problem, that's the one I'm most tied to, most committed to. It's the biggest infrastructure commitment. The other products are just coming under scrutiny now.

Are synergies between the two companies going to result in layoffs?

Klayko: Yet to be determined. There are some obvious things. I have a good finance organization, IT organization and some back-office functions that I only need one of. The other thing we're finding as we learn more and more about the business is we have some really good people. So we're reaching out to those people and saying obviously you have some great skills and a good account relationship. So there's always room in our organization for great people.

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