Brocade is known for a couple of things – building Extraordinary Networks, and developing and maintaining close partnerships with other companies in ways that benefit customers beyond the benefits that they would receive if Brocade “made it all here.” One of the areas in which we partner closely with other vendors to deliver a complete solution is campus wireless access, or WiFi. Our focus on cross-compatibility not only among our own products but with many other vendors makes our combined offering here stronger and more flexible than single-vendor solutions. With the increasingly distributed enterprise, the benefits of a combined WiFi offering are absolutely clear.
The driver for the growth in enterprise wireless to this point is primarily due to convenience; the increased needs of a mobile enterprise. Moving forward, one of the major trends is that wireless is becoming an integral part of a networking infrastructure as opposed to something that is really built for convenience and casual use. This is particularly important as the new wireless standard built in 802.11n begin to emerge, as opposed to the past standards – 802.11a, and 802.11b/g. – 802.11n can now carry traffic comparable to your wired local area network speed, which is 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and above while enhancing the robustness and range of the wireless signal. So potentially users can actually leverage wireless access to access mission critical applications and access data which normally would be too bulky or too large to be downloaded through the legacy wireless technology. With 802.11n some organizations and enterprise may actually choose to bypass the wiring of the building and go completely wireless.
As this trend increases, we will continue to see customers source and fund the deployment of wired and wireless networks at the same time, vs. doing what they have traditionally done and treating them separately. In this context, it would seem better for them to get the entire solution from a single vendor, preferably with unique value-added functionalities – It is. It might also seem that it would be better to have the entire solution developed by that vendor – It’s not.
Vendors who would offer you their, and only their wares from end to end in the development of a local area network are not necessarily selling you the best products for your needs, but, potentially, products that meet the lowest requirements of the stated need at the highest margins for themselves. The Brocade approach, on the other hand, is to continuously survey the landscape for the best available technology, regardless of the source, establish its interoperability with all of your various network components, build strong relationships with the vendors who supply it and deploy it at the best possible cost/performance ratio. This strategy is enabled by the fact that we do not need to subsidize other areas of the company by charging you more for portions of an end-to-end solution than the market demands, under the guise and per the assertion that, “If we make it all it must be the best.” In fact, we have an increasing number of customers who did buy into that, and who were greatly disappointed later, and who are now turning to us for a complete replacement of parts of, if not all of their network infrastructure.
While we are happy to help in that regard, we’d rather work with them to get it right the first time – selecting from best-of-breed vendors, working to ensure interoperability and availability in IP networks with the same intensive processes we always have in the data center, and extending our partnership beyond our technology partners and to the end users themselves.