Brocade makes the enterprise wireless network more open

Brocade has partnered with two more Wi-Fi vendors to offer enterprise customers a more flexible wireless network.

Switch maker Brocade is differentiating itself from Cisco and HP in the wireless LAN market by providing a central console that can manage access points (AP) from multiple vendors.

Last week, Brocade introduced its Open Mobility Program, as well as partnerships with AP makers Aerohive Networks and Ruckus Wireless Inc.

Companies that buy into the program can manage Brocade switches and its partners' APs from a single console. Companies that buy the technologies from separate vendors often have to manage their enterprise wireless networks using multiple software tools.

Brocade also partnered with AP vendor Aruba, which HP acquired in May. Siva Valliappan, a vice president at Brocade, said more wireless vendors might be added in the future.

In January, Brocade rival Juniper Networks Inc. announced a similar partnership with Ruckus to beef up its competitive edge against Cisco and HP, the largest vendors in the enterprise wireless network market. Cisco APs stem from its 2012 acquisition of Meraki.

The best-of-breed advantage

Nolan Greene, analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said dedicated partnerships let smaller vendors compete more effectively with rivals that make and sell switches and APs.

"The problem is often on the vendor end," he said. "They lose deals from customers unwilling to buy from vendors who don't offer an end-to-end solution."

While strategic partnerships sometimes fail, those that work bring a number of customer benefits, such as better reliability, unified management, improved performance and a faster resolution time when operational problems arise, said Craig Mathias, principal adviser at the firm Farpoint Group, based in Ashland, Mass.

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