Will Renting High-End Networking Work?

Will Renting High-End Networking Work?

We’re used to renting applications in a software-as-a-service model; we’re used to paying on-demand for cloud processing power. But are we ready to pay for actual networking infrastructure on an as-you-go basis?

During a media launch last week, Brocade discussed its Brocade Network Subscription service in Australia. Customers pay a monthly fee based on the network infrastructure they need (based on port usage), and can withdraw from the contract at two weeks’ notice. The company has already signed up a number of local customers.

Much of the emphasis in the planning of such services is around flexibility, rather than detailed network planning. “The focus isn’t as much on the technology,” regional director Graham Schultz said. “Certainly in the couple of deals we’ve closed off to date, the discussion around the tech tends to be at a “we’re happy with the service level agreement” level. It’s more about the flexibility than the technology.”

While that might sound like a low-resource way to build infrastructure, Brocade maintains it won’t work for everyone. Schultz argues that it works best for rapidly growing firms which expect a certain level of expansion, but don’t know exactly when that will happen. “If your growth is predictable you don’t need it.”

While the approach bears some resemblance to earlier attempts at utility computing, Brocade argues there’s a major difference. “Most of the finance guys who analysed utility computing soon worked out it cost way more than buying gear,” said regional sales manager Pat Devlin. “All you got was flexible pricing. This is radically different because we’re not introducing a financier.”

Would paying for networking infrastructure make life easier in your business? Tell us in the comments.


  • Server vendors and storage vendors have been doing this for years. In reality it’s just a slightly different way of financing a hardware acquisition. You estimate what you’ll need (of whichever resource) to start off with and how much you’ll grow over that period. The vendor either puts the whole lot in up front or tracks along with your growth (with a bit extra as a safety margin) and ties it all up with a finance contract. Brocade may say they’re not introducing a financier, but that probably means that the customer doesn’t deal direct with one and Brocade does so at the back end.

  • I think the key difference is that the notice to leave the service is 2 weeks. So hardly doubt a financier would be involved in any format. I think the pricing factors a premium for the luxury of having the flexibility of scaling and the option to terminate the contract at short notice. Essentially you are paying for only what you need, and not locking up your budget in acquiring resources you have no use for until months later, with the possibility of you not needing it at all. Like they said, it wont be attractive to some clients, especially those who are able to plan for the future and know what their infrastructure will need. For them, this will work out to be a more expensive option.

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