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A long-time networking veteran, McHugh also spent 26 years at Hewlett-Packard, six of those in charge of the vendor's network infrastructure unit ProCurve.
After leaving HP in mysterious circumstances in June 2008 he spent time with Avaya owners Silver Lake before joining Nortel in early 2009.
At Nortel he was one of the key architects behind the successful sale of the enterprise unit to Avaya.
Brocade CEO Michael Klayko said McHugh's "proven track record for transforming businesses through periods of expansion and innovation make him a stretegic member of my executive team."
Storage stalwart Brocade, which has been making waves in the networking world since its acquisition of Foundry, touts itself as one of only two end-to-end networking vendors in the world - Cisco being the other - but recently came in for criticism after its Ethernet sales fell off a cliff in the last quarter.
It also has form when it comes to stealing execs away from Nortel; last June it hired Amanda Giddins, Nortel's European enterprise channel lead, to head up its EMEA channel sales business.