For the past 20 years I have consistently heard that the networking industry is being commoditized, frankly that assertion doesn’t hold any more water today than it did in the early 1990s.
My belief is that the people who spread this conjecture tend to be frustrated network executives who have been unsuccessful in growing their business in a highly competitive marketplace, or they are those who simply don’t understand that most enterprise customers consider their network infrastructure one of their most strategic assets.
I will freely admit that if one asked customers what their most strategic IT asset was, most would not think of their network. In general the network is reliable, capable and stable so many folks do not think of how pivotal it is to their current and future IT strategic requirements. Nevertheless, customers’ buying behavior clearly demonstrates that they understand the importance intuitively if not consciously.
To understand my point, you simply need to consider the past 20 years of networking. During that time, nearly every innovation and evolution in IT has been enabled, supported, or mandated by the expansion of enterprise networking capabilities. For example, key advancements—such as VoIP systems, mobility, access control, guest facilities, enabling flexible workforces, streaming video, Ethernet fabrics, virtualization and now BYOD —cannot exist in the absence of advanced, automated, and high-performance networks.
Additionally, simply by reviewing market share numbers, you will see that customers choose advanced highly differentiated (even at times overpriced) networking providers over the commoditized provider by a wide margin. Specific examples exist to prove the point as well. When 3Com altered their strategy in the late 1990s to go from an advanced enterprise oriented networking solution provider to a low cost purveyor of commodity networking, they went from one of the top market share holders to a barely relevant and marginalized SMB provider within a matter of five years.
Even if the network is not the first thing that pops into their minds, most customers inherently understand the strategic role the network plays in today’s dynamic business environment. When it’s time to build or expand their network, they typically start by focusing on where their IT plans are heading five to ten years down the line. They assess what applications and technologies they’ll need to support. And they then try to determine what essential network capabilities will be required.
When it comes to selecting the right networking equipment, customers first evaluate which solutions have the capabilities they need to day and the capabilities they will require over the next five to ten years. The choose providers who have a compelling vision and a track record of commitment and execution. More often than not, the market gravitates to innovation where it provides future proofing and cost control. Most customers realize they can’t simply buy the cheapest network available. In my mind that is not a commoditized market. It’s a highly strategic component critical to business success.
Knowing this, Brocade is focused on being the leading developer of innovative, no-compromise network solutions for the next generation of IT. From our advanced data center Ethernet fabrics and high-performance service provider networks to the evolution of the effortless campus LAN, Brocade is committed to creating network products that combine the highest levels of performance, functionality, and business value. Our goal is not just to provide networks built for today’s business challenges, but also those that can handle the challenges few people are anticipating.