Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. is an American technology company specializing in data and storage networking products. Originally known for its Fibre Channel storage networks, the company expanded include a wide range of products marketed as third platform technologies. Offerings included routers and network switches for data center, campus and carrier environments, IP and Fibre Channel storage network fabrics; Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) markets such as a commercial edition of the OpenDaylight Project controller; and network management software that spans physical and virtual devices.
On November 2, 2016, Singapore-based chip maker Broadcom Limited announced they were buying Brocade for about $5.5 billion.
Brocade was founded in August 1995, by Seth Neiman (a venture capitalist, a former executive from Sun Microsystems and a professional auto racer), Kumar Malavalli (a co-author of the Fibre Channel specification) and Paul R. Bonderson (a former executive from Intel Corporation and Sun). Neiman became the first CEO of the company. Brocade was incorporated on May 14, 1998, in Delaware.
The company's first product, SilkWorm, which was a Fibre Channel switch, was released in early 1997.
On May 25, 1999, the company went public at a split-adjusted price of $4.75. On initial public offering (IPO), the company offered 3,250,000 shares, with an additional 487,500 shares offered to the underwriters to cover over-allotments. The top three underwriters (based on number of shares) for Brocade's IPO were, in order, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, BT Alex.Brown, and Dain Rauscher Wessels. Brocade stock traded in the National Market System of the NASDAQ GS stock market under the ticker symbol BRCD. A second generation of switches was announced in 1999.
On January 14, 2013, Brocade named Lloyd Carney as new chief executive. On November 2, 2016, Singapore-based chip maker Broadcom Limited announced they were buying Brocade for $5.5 billion. As part of the announcement, Broadcom said they would sell Brocade's networking business to avoid competing with its top customers such as Cisco Systems.
On August 8, 2017, Brocade announced that its SDN technology had been spun off as a new company called Lumina Networks. This follows the sales of other divisions designed to allow the Broadcom acquisition to proceed, including Ruckus Wireless, Connectem (vEPC), Virtual ADC, Vyatta & vRouter, and Brocade's data center networking business.
Brocade hardware products include Fibre Channel storage area network (SAN) directors and switches; ultra-low-latency data center switches; Ethernet fabrics, Federal and enterprise Ethernet (LAN/WLAN) switches; WAN (Internet) routers; application delivery controllers (load balancers); Fibre Channel fabric extension switches; embedded Fibre Channel and Ethernet switch blades; Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs); converged Fibre Channel/Ethernet network adapters (CNAs), and Ethernet transceivers. Other hardware solutions from Brocade support common protocols including iSCSI, FCIP, GigE, FICON, FCoE, DCB/CEE, and Layer 4-7 networking protocols.
Brocade also sells software-based networking devices including technology for SDN, Network virtualization, virtual routers, virtual firewalls, virtual Application Delivery Controllers (load balancers), network security appliances and VPNs through its wholly owned subsidiary, Vyatta.
Brocade's first Fibre Channel switch SilkWorm 1000 (SW1000) (released in 1997) was based on the "Stitch" ASIC and their own VxWorks-based firmware (Fabric OS or FOS). SilkWorm eventually came to be a long-lived marketing designation for an entire line of products, with the first product being retro-named the SilkWorm 1000 (SW1000) to distinguish it from subsequent platforms. Bruce Bergman was the CEO during most of this period. Product names were generally puns on various kinds of woven fabric, since a switched Fibre Channel network is also called a "fabric".
In 1998, Gregory Reyes joined the company as CEO. In 2001, Brocade released the SilkWorm 6400, which was designated a "director" similarly to IBM ESCON directors already well-established in the mainframe computer market. The term "director" became universally used for more expensive FC switches.
From 2001 to 2003, Brocade released switches based on its third generation ASIC, "BLOOM" (Big LOOM). BLOOM introduced increased throughput of 2 Gbit/s instead of 1 Gbit/s. Brocade integrated BLOOM into its first "pure" director, the SilkWorm 12000, in April 2002. The director offered up to 128 ports in two 64-port pseudo-switches (domains). The 12000 represented several internal architecture and technical changes besides the new ASIC: it had an upgraded control processor architecture (Intel i960 moved to PowerPC 405GP), changed the embedded operating system (FOS v4.0 migrated from Wind River Systems VxWorks to MontaVista Linux), and introduced the backplane architecture (hierarchical PCI buses with replaceable blades attached to a backplane). The Bloom ASIC also introduced a notable capability of frame-level Fibre Channel trunking, which provided high throughput with load balancing across multiple cables. It needed to be implemented in the ASIC hardware to ensure in-order delivery of frames. Also hot firmware upgrade was introduced with FOS v4.1 in October 2003.
At the time, Brocade's main rival, McDATA, held over 90% market share in director segment, owing to a strong position first in the ESCON market, and then in the FICON market. The SilkWorm 12000 director gained over one-third of the market share after its release in 2002. Brocade added mainframe customers with FICON and FICON CUP support on the SilkWorm 12000. In 2003, the SilkWorm 12000 was named “Storage Product of the Year” by Computing.
In 2004, the BLOOM II improved on the previous ASIC design by reducing its power consumption and die size, while maintaining 2 Gbit/s technology. It powered Brocade’s second generation director, the SilkWorm 24000. Still a 128 port design, it was the first one which could operate as a single 128-port switch (a single domain). The new director also used approximately two thirds less power than its predecessor. Brocade introduced also its first multiprotocol Fibre Channel router, the SilkWorm 7420. Brocade also acquired Rhapsody Networks (a SAN virtualization startup company). This was also the time frame in which Brocade first entered into the embedded switch market, delivering multiple switches physically integrated into other vendors' hardware, such as storage controllers and blade server chassis.
As of March 2009, Brocade had sold over 10 million SAN switch ports with over 44,000 directors installed, and held 75.5% of the overall SAN switch market (Dell'Oro Group, 1Q09 SAN Report).
In Late 2010 Brocade introduced Virtual Cluster Switching (VCS) on the VDX ultra-low-latency data center switch product line. These are DCB/CEE- and TRILL-based switches, eliminating the need for Spanning Tree Protocol, and supporting multi-hop Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and self-trunking.
In May 2011, Brocade launched the industry's first "Gen 5 Fibre Channel" (16 Gbit/s) SAN platform family including the Brocade DCX 8510 Backbone, 6510 switch and 1860 Fabric Adapter. The Brocade DCX 8510 is available in 8-slot or 4-slot chassis models supporting up to 384 16 Gbit/s ports at line-rate speeds and 8.2 terabits per second (Tbit/s) of chassis bandwidth. It includes optical UltraScale inter-chassis links (ICLs) which simplify scale-out design for multi-chassis architectures. The Brocade 6510 switch is a 48-port 16 Gbit/s switch designed for virtualized applications and high-performance storage including SSD arrays. Brocade also introduced the 1860 Fabric Adapter, the industry's first adapter which includes AnyIO 16 Gbit/s FC HBA, 10GbE CNA, and 10GbE NIC functionality on the same card.
In April 2012, Brocade launched the 6505 switch (24-port) entry-level switch.
In March 2013, Brocade launched the 6520 96-port Gen 5 Fibre Channel high-density switch and announced Brocade Fabric Vision technology. Brocade Fabric Vision technology introduces advanced diagnostics, monitoring, and management capabilities through a combination of ASIC, FOS, and Brocade Network Advisor. New features include Brocade Monitoring and Alerting Policy Suite (MAPS) for fabric-wide threshold configuration and monitoring and Brocade Flow Vision for data flow monitoring and analysis.
Brocade designs its Fibre Channel ASICs for performing switching functions in its SAN switches.
The first family of SAN switches, the SilkWorm 1000, released in 1997, were based on the first generation of Brocade ASICs, called Stitch. The SilkWorm 6400 series of SAN Director class switches and SilkWorm 2400/2800 switches, released in 1999, were based on the second generation of Brocade ASICs, called LOOM. The SilkWorm 12000/24000 SAN Directors and SilkWorm 3200/3800/3850 SAN switches, released in 2001, were based on the third and fourth generation of Brocade ASICs called BLOOM and BLOOM-II.
The fifth generation of ASICs, called Condor and Goldeneye (scaled-down Condor), powered the SilkWorm 48/000 series of Directors and port blades, FR4-18i Extension Blade, and SilkWorm 200E/4100/4900/7500 series of switches respectively. These products were released into the market in 2004. The sixth generation of Brocade ASICs (designed in 2008) are called Condor 2 and Goldeneye 2. Condor 2 supports 40 ports of 8 Gbit/s per ASIC and Goldeneye 2 supports 32 ports of 8 Gbit/s. These ASICs are used in the DCX Backbone Family of chassis and port blades, FS8-18 Encryption Blade, FX8-24 Extension Blade, and 300/5100/5300/7800/Encryption switches. The 7th generation of Brocade ASICs are Condor 3. Condor 3 supports 48 ports of 16 Gbit/s per ASIC. These ASICs are used in the DCX 8510 Backbone Family and port blades, and the 6505/6510/6520 switches. The initial 16 Gbit/s product line (DCX 8510-8, DCX 8510-4, 6510 48-port switch, and 1860 Fabric Adapter) was originally launched in 2011. The 6505 24-port switch was launched in May 2012. The 6520 96-port switch was launched in March 2013.
Brocade entered into the Federal, ISP, carrier, enterprise and campus switch/router market through its acquisition of Foundry Networks in 2008.
In September 2010, Brocade entered the 100 Gigabit Ethernet market with the 32-port Brocade MLXe Core Router chassis and a two-port 100 Gigabit Ethernet module, targeted at service providers and data centers, claiming twice the 100 Gigabit Ethernet density of Internet core routers from its competitors Cisco and Juniper. Along with it, the company also released the Brocade Network Advisor application for managing IP, storage, MPLS, application delivery, and wireless elements in converged service provider and data center networks. In November 2011, Brocade announced a large 100 Gigabit Ethernet deployment.
In December 2010, Brocade began shipping the Brocade VDX 6720 Switch as part of its product family for Ethernet fabric environments based on Brocade VCS Fabric technology designed for highly scalable virtualized and cloud computing environments. In August 2011, Brocade introduced two additional products for this family. The Brocade VDX 6730 Switch is a 10 GbE switch which can also use FCoE to bridge VCS Fabrics with Fibre Channel SAN fabrics. The Brocade VDX 6710 Switch is an entry-level 1/10 GbE switch which enables legacy 1 GbE servers to connect to VCS Fabrics as well as traditional LANs. In September 2012, Brocade announced a modular switch as part of this portfolio. The Brocade VDX 8770 Switch supports single VCS Fabrics as large as 8000+ switch ports supporting up to 384,000 VMs attached to a single VCS Fabric. The VDX 8770 provides port-to-port latency at 3.5 μs across 1, 10, and 40 GbE ports.
In November 2011, Brocade introduced the Brocade ICX product family. It released the Brocade ICX 6610 Switch for the Federal, enterprise and campus networking segment, with a maximum switching capacity of 576 Gbit/s and forwarding capacity of 432 Mpps with PoE+. In March 2012, Brocade released the Brocade ICX 6430 Switch and Brocade ICX 6450 Switch for the Federal, enterprise and campus networking segments, with full stacking capabilities as well as Layer 2 and Layer 3 functionality. The switches are available in 24- and 48-port 1 GbE models, with optional 1/10 GbE uplink/stacking ports. The company also announced its HyperEdge technology for automated single-point management and mix-and-max stacking for sharing advanced functionality among all the members of a switching stack. In September 2012, Brocade introduced the fixed form factor Brocade ICX 6650 switch. This Ethernet switch features 1/10 GbE ports for server connectivity and 10/40 GbE ports for uplink connectivity. It is designed for data center top-of-rack (ToR) environments and Federal, enterprise and campus LAN aggregation deployments.
In 2009, Brocade introduced the Brocade Mobility family of Wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions for Federal, enterprise and campus environments, including multiple models of access points and controllers.
The Brocade software product portfolio includes software networking and network management applications. Network Management solutions include:
Brocade software networking solutions include the Brocade Vyatta 5400 vRouter and the Brocade vADX (a virtual version of Brocade's ADX application delivery platform).
Within the Ethernet/IP networking market, Brocade competes with the following companies:
Brocade is a dominant vendor in the Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (SAN) networking market, competing with the following companies:
In 2005, Gregory Reyes resigned as CEO after being indicted for securities fraud relating to backdating stock option grants. After spending about a year investigating these allegations, the Department of Justice (DoJ), through the US Attorney’s Office, the SEC, and the FBI filed criminal and civil charges against Reyes. In roughly the same time frame, the DoJ, SEC, and FBI also began investigating over 100 other companies for similar activities. Greg Reyes and Stephanie Jensen, the former vice president of HR, were charged with 12 counts of fraud. Two counts were dismissed, and on August 7, 2007, Reyes was convicted on the remaining 10 counts. On January 16, 2008, he was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay a $15 million fine. Stephanie Jensen, Brocade's former vice president of human resources, was convicted in a separate trial. On March 19, 2008, she was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay a $1.25 million fine. The convictions of both Reyes and Jensen were appealed. On August 18, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned Gregory Reyes' convictions and sent the case back to the lower courts for retrial, where he was again convicted, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $10 million fine. Reyes was incarcerated at the Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, California, with an anticipated release date of December 29, 2011. As of August 2011, a second appeal remains pending.
Brocade announced on August 6, 2012, a San Jose federal court jury returned its verdict in the case of Brocade v. A10 Networks, and found A10 responsible for broad-based intellectual property infringement and unfair competition, awarding approximately $112 million to Brocade The trial lasted three weeks. The jury unanimously awarded punitive damages against A10 and also personally against its CEO Lee Chen, strongly condemning Chen and A10's unfair competition. The jury also returned an unambiguous verdict for patent and copyright infringement and trade secret misappropriation covering A10's entire AX Series load balancing server products. Brocade announced on January 11, 2013, a San Jose federal court confirmed a $60 million damages verdict against A10 Networks and entered an order permanently enjoining A10 from infringing on Brocade's patents involving technologies for Global Server Load Balancing and High Availability. On May 20, 2013, Brocade and A10 reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit, along with all related claims. Among other agreed upon terms, A10 granted Brocade a broad patent license and agreed to pay Brocade $5 million in cash and issue a $70 million unsecured convertible promissory note payable to Brocade.