Resellers have given a cautious welcolme to Sun Microsystems' decision to sell Brocade Communications' Silkworm fibre channel switches directly and through its reseller channels worldwide.
The move, an extension of an existing agreement, means Brocade has agreements with all the major storage hardware vendors, including EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and Dell.
"Sun is the last of the majors to conclude a comprehensive support agreement," said Paul Trowbridge, Brocade's North Europe marketing manager.
"We are moving from a limited set to all configurations. It removes any questions."
Sun will now provide technical support and service for the switches, offering them stand-alone or as part of its storage area network (San) or other storage configurations.
Simon Welch, group marketing manager at Clarity Distribution which supplies both Sun and Brocade products, was bullish.
"It's always much easier when you can buy directly through the system and easier for resellers to re-stock," he said.
"Products are not always approved but we know Brocade switches are - and it's the market leader."
Storage networking reseller HPS managing director Paul Talbut said it was good news for Brocade, which needed to do all it could ahead of Cisco joining the switch market this year.
But he added: "There's no exclusivity left in the Brocade market so it's difficult to differentiate yourself."
HPS supplies switches from Brocade and also McData, but not Sun products. Talbut said McData's switches matched Brocade's but McData's marketing lagged behind in Europe.
Sun will also use the Brocade Fabric Access application programming interface (API) to deliver improved switch management through its storage management applications, especially Sun StorEdge enterprise storage management software.
This covers functions such as device discovery, error reporting, control zoning and performance monitoring.
No major storage vendor is limited to one switch supplier. But Kathleen Holmgren, Sun's vice president of network storage, said Sun's open San architecture made it easy to add Brocade switching technology, offering customers greater choice in San design.
Trowbridge said the current API version had most of the fundamental elements for 'Bluefin' common interface model (CIM) storage compliance, with the next version due in Q2 fully CIM-compliant.
He said pre- and post-sale Sun personnel had already been trained and spares were in place.
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