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IBM will begin selling Brocade routers and switches to enterprise customers under its own brand through a new OEM agreement between the two companies.

Under the agreement, IBM will sell the Brocade NetIron MLX Series routers as the IBM m-Series, the Brocade NetIron CES 2000 Series switches as the IBM c-Series, the Brocade FastIron SX Series switches as the IBM s-Series, and the Brocade FastIron GS Series switches as the IBM G-series. This pushes IBM even further ahead in the networking market, and because this will be an enterprise play, it will also create some extra competition for Cisco Systems in that market, said Michelle Warren, president of MW Research & Consulting.

"This is IBM going head-to-head-to-head with HP and Cisco," Warren said. This is a strengthening of the IBM/Brocade relationship that has existed for the last decade in relation to SANs, storage and the datacenter. That partnership has taken various forms over the years, but they have worked closely together for a long time, she said.

One interesting thing Warren noted is the timing, which coincided with an announcement from IBM and Juniper Networks that the two companies were expanding their two-year-old relationship.

Warren said that the announcements weren’t surprising, as there had already been speculation that IBM would be strengthening its relationships with its networking partners.

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