That Brocade deal was viewed as IBM's retaliation for Cisco entering the datacenter blade server market, long the stronghold of partners IBM and HP. But IBM recently announced that it would OEM Cisco's Nexus 5000 datacenter switch, which indicates that relations between the two may not be as bad as suggested.
But analysts acknowledge that so many OEM sources for switches may confuse customers. But they indicate that IBM is becoming more of an integrator of products that suit the best interests of its customers -- and itself -- while gradually placing its eggs in other networking baskets besides Cisco's.
"My read on what is happening is that IBM is returning to becoming a true integrator and will more actively look out for the best interests of their customers as well as their own best interests," says Mark Fabbi of Gartner. "Having some alternatives will aid in this. This will result in a rebalancing of their past thinking which basically equated networking with Cisco. In IBM's case, when they are in control of an account -- for example a large datacenter consolidation project -- you will see them select what they feel is the best solution for the customer and their own financial position and it won't always be Cisco."
Fabbi believes IBM will continue to deal with Cisco -- "it's too big to walk away from" -- but will gradually reshape its business to where Cisco will not be "the de facto only choice" for networking.
And extending its current resale arrangement with Juniper into an OEM deal will help demonstrate IBM's commitment to networking – and might result in better margins, Fabbi says.
"It represents a closer arrangement between the two companies," he says. "For IBM, it likely results in a better financial arrangement so it can help their ability to increase margin. There could also be some reciprocal commitments that are attractive to Juniper."
Extreme, McAfee partner
Separately, Extreme Networks has entered into a non-exclusive partnership with McAfee to jointly market interoperable and integrated security products, including the ability to manage Extreme security applications through McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator software, a centralized management console. Customers will be able to enforce security controls at the switch port level, the companies said, and have a single pane of glass for end point and network security.