I’d like to share my gratitude, pride, and excitement on commemorating the 15-year anniversary of Brocade. We’ve come a long way in the last 15 years—starting with a few guys, a 400 square foot storefront, and an impromptu conference table made from a large cardboard box—to where we are today. We’ve made significant achievements in technology and in the industry. We're grateful for the support of visionary founders, great customers and partners, and talented employees along the way.
I want to take a moment to reflect on the company’s legacy that provided a firm foundation for our current success and share a vision of what I think the next 15 years hold.
Birth of the Fibre Channel Industry Brocade is not your average networking company. And Brocade was never a typical Silicon Valley startup. Most startups begin with a couple of really bright geeks (I started my career as an engineer so I think I can use that term without insulting anyone) who come up with an idea for a cool product. Then they build a business plan to attract capital investors. Not so with Brocade.
The story starts with Seth Neiman of Crosspoint Venture Partners. From his experience at Sun Microsystems and other tech companies, he realized that IT evolution goes through a series of choke points in performance (CPU performance, then memory capacity, then storage capacity, etc.). So in 1994 he began to study what the next likely choke point was going to be in performance. The answer: storage connectivity and scale. With the help of a market analyst, Seth determined that Fibre Channel was likely to be the solution to that choke point and that furthermore the market would be unlikely to follow the 15 years of shared topologies or hubs that the Ethernet market had gone through. The market would more likely move quickly into switched fabrics—Sun Microsystems had already been shipping quarter speed Fibre Channel in its storage subsystems since about 1992-1993 and HP was also providing quarter speed or 256 Mbit Fibre Channel.
Seth then started a personnel search for the engineering talent (geeks) to launch such a company. In his search, he found Paul Bonderson of Sun Microsystems and Kumar Malavalli of HP Canadian Network Operations (which was formerly the Toronto, Canada based CANSTAR). Together the three cofounded Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. on August 22, 1995. Paul served as our first VP of Engineering and Kumar, still known today as the “Father of Fibre Channel,” was Brocade’s first CTO. In April of 1997 we made the first shipments of the SilkWorm switch and the market understood that this networking approach to storage was viable, cost-effective, and extremely reliable.
Innovation and Growth in the Internet Era Fast forward 15 years, it is remarkable how much the Internet has evolved, and how Brocade has helped fuel its growth. The world is on the verge of plugging in the five billionth device to the Internet, a number that is expected to grow four-fold in a decade from now.
This has had a profound impact on our culture and society. Internet companies—including eBay, Amazon, and Google—couldn’t exist without networking. Brocade is proud to be an integral part of the high-performance network and a key supplier to these companies. Along the way, Brocade has continued to innovate and has moved into strategic markets to support this networking infrastructure. Today, Brocade offers a comprehensive family of storage, IP, and converged networking solutions for the data center and beyond.
A Diverse, Performance-Driven Culture with a Shared Vision Our founders wanted a name for the company that said something about what the products did, was easy to remember and a little bit exotic. They agreed upon “Brocade,” which is defined as a fabric interwoven with a rich, raised design—Fibre Channel networks were called “fabrics” at the time.
The term also accurately describes the thousands of dedicated employees from varied backgrounds that have been part of the company throughout its history. Over the years we have woven in many different companies and technologies to create one company with one vision – to be the best networking company on the planet.
I am extremely proud of the professional, performance-driven culture of Brocade that helped us become one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For and the No. 1 Best Place to Work in the Bay Area according to the San Francisco Business Times.
A Bright Future In thinking about how technology has evolved over the past 15 years, the most remarkable transformation is how WE have adapted to TECHNOLOGY. Technology has changed the way we do business, how we communicate and socialize, how we receive information, how we shop, travel and bank.
Looking forward, I expect more transformations in the industry and Brocade. We will continue to shape the industry and the networked world, leveraging the core values that have made Brocade unique—innovation, performance, and vision.
If the past 15 years have been about adapting to technology, then my hope is that we can leverage technology to solve problems in education, healthcare, the environment and the economy. That is a legacy we would all be proud of.