Brocade announced it is buying Silverback Systems, makers of a low-cost IP accelerator chip

Silverback has been getting some traction, as I learned when I had dinner with a couple of Silverback worthies at SNW.

My pity turned to respect
When I agreed to meet with them, the thought balloon over my head was “these poor guys – another expensive TCP accelerator that is going nowhere”. But they assured me they had a low-cost accelerator – TCP/IP offload engine or TOE. OK, that is a cool thing, especially with the advent of 10G ethernet.

Fibre Channel won’t disappear, but . . .
Ethernet-based SANs, IMHO, are the larger market based on lower cost and performance that overshoots what most users need. Plus lower management costs. It looked to me that Silverback might have the silver bullet to make ethernet SANs the standard.

So y-n-ell would Brocade want them?
Brocade is the #1 FC switch vendor. TOEs go on host-bus adapters. Why would Brocade want to go in the cut-throat HBA business?

Baseless StorageMojo theorizing
Several scenarios might explain it. Sharpen Occam’s razor.

  • Brocade believes SAN market going 10 Gig E. Doesn’t see itself beating Cisco in E’net switches, decides to go beat up on Qlogic and take their HBA business.
  • Brocade tired of Qlogic trying to commoditize the FC switch business. Moving into HBAs is a shot across Q’s bow. Brocade has all the OEM relationships Qlogic does, so why not?
  • Brocade playing bigger game: believes that end-to-end ethernet SANs are the next big win; Silverback gives them the endpoints; next move, a big honking ethernet switch, add storage features to same, kneecap Cisco in the ethernet SAN business.

Or maybe they just assumed they’d think of something
I like the third option best. Not sure the “add features, create lock-in” model will work again, but I suppose it depends on the features. Any ideas, readers?

Comments welcome of course. Moderation turned on to minimize on-line Cialis prices.