IBM launches networking portfolio -- again

IBM's network portfolio launch means Big Blue will offer a choice of IBM Ethernet switches alongside data center and storage equipment in an all-in-one package. But will once-burned customers bite?

IBM is relaunching a networking portfolio.

After throwing in the networking towel a decade ago, IBM launched a networking portfolio this year -- joining the fray of vendors that believe the way to a customer's heart is through a joint data center, networks and storage package.

IBM had been a longtime reseller of Cisco networking equipment, but Big Blue announced last spring that it would sell Brocade (formerly Foundry) equipment under its own brand name of IBM Ethernet switches. IBM was already a Brocade storage equipment reseller.

Many wondered whether the partnership would end Big Blue's long-standing Cisco relationship, but IBM announced a few months later that it would expand its existing OEM deals to sell Cisco's Nexus 5000 switches, as well as Juniper's EX and MX lines.

So what is IBM's long-term vision? To offer all parts of the data center and enterprise network as a single package with a choice of networking providers, along with the ability to build multi-vendor environments. All of this will be supported, of course, by IBM's services division.

IBM's presence in the networking landscape is not likely to pose a huge threat to other networking vendors. But Big Blue will find challenges in 2010 trying to convince customers that this time it's in the networking game for good.

NEXT: As if the industry hadn't waited long enough ...
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This was first published in December 2009

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