IT Management

An Interview With Lloyd Carney, CEO of Brocade

Enterprise Executive recently caught up with Brocade Communications (Brocade) CEO Lloyd Carney to discuss the company’s long history of providing networking technologies supporting both ESCON and FICON, its relationship with IBM and growth opportunities in the mainframe market.

Enterprise Executive: Lloyd, please tell us a little about Brocade.

Lloyd Carney: Brocade is a company forged out of the data center that has delivered networking technologies in the most mission-critical IT environments throughout our 17-year history. We’re a pure-play networking company with a complete portfolio for enterprise and service provider customer segments as well as a broad number of vertical industries. Brocade is also a pioneer and the undisputed leader in the Fibre Channel storage area networking market, which has given us opportunities to form strategic partnerships with companies such as IBM.

EE: What is Brocade’s history with mainframe technology?

Carney: Brocade has a long, unique history with mainframe technology going back more than 25 years to 1987 and bus and tag channel extension. Our corporate “family tree” includes companies such as Data Switch, Computerm, Inrange, CNT, McDATA and Foundry Networks. We developed and manufactured many generations of products supporting both ESCON and FICON technologies, including the DCX 8510, which is our ninth-generation FICON director.

We also have a rich history and a complete portfolio for mainframe/data center extension through technologies such as Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP), which is now in its seventh generation of release. That vast experience is now leading us to become the trusted IP networking provider for utility computing, grid computing and real-time software replication. Of course, behind all that is a great team of people. We have the best, brightest, most skilled and innovative team of mainframe experts in the industry who have been part of that Brocade family tree for many years.

EE: What is Brocade’s history with IBM?

Carney: It parallels the history with mainframe technology I just mentioned. We have a close working partnership with IBM System z in Poughkeepsie and IBM’s storage team in Tucson. We hold multiple technical-interlock meetings with IBM each year. During these interlocks, we exchange product roadmaps and development ideas. We have a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with IBM that has led to some innovative technologies for our mutual customers, including several co-patents with IBM on ESCON and FICON-related technologies.

EE: Why is the mainframe still a relevant technology today?

Carney: The IBM mainframe is the Mark Twain of IT; reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, mainframes are alive and well, and are continuing to deliver business value to the companies that depend on them. The IBM mainframe is still extremely relevant technology in 2013. All 50 of the world’s top global banks depend on the IBM System z to run the most sophisticated, I/O-intensive transactions on the planet. More than 20 of the 25 largest U.S. retailers continue to run their businesses on IBM mainframes. Brocade is proud that our FICON directors account for more than 80 percent of the installed storage area networking infrastructure in these global enterprises. They’re our most important and valued customers, and it’s an honor that we’re trusted for their mission-critical infrastructure.

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