Cisco Extends SAN Coverage

Cisco Systems added
software and two new devices to its MDS 9000 line of storage networking technology to better
compete with rivals Brocade Communications Systems and McData .

The MDS 9216i fabric switch and the Multiprotocol Services Module, announced
today at Storage Decisions 2004 in Chicago,
feature Ethernet ports that can support Fibre Channel over IP or iSCSI

The ability to extend a storage area network , replicate
data and back it up are critical components of a disaster recovery and
business continuity product, especially at a time when competition to devise such remedies to
backing up data over long distances is fierce. Rajeev Bhardwaj, senior product manager
for the Cisco MDS 9000, said the new hardware and software is designed to
improve Cisco’s ability to offer SAN extension
for disaster recovery and business continuity, as well as SAN consolidation.

“What customers are asking us for is the ability to automate SANs and to
create SANs with plug-and-play capability,” Bhardwaj told

The Multiprotocol Services Module is designed for use with the MDS 9500
Series directors and the MDS 9200 Series Modular fabric switches. The Cisco
MDS 9216i is a stand-alone system and is part of the Cisco MDS 9200 Series
but shares a common architecture with the Cisco MDS 9000 family.

The devices support SAN-OS 2.0, the latest version of the operating system for the Cisco
MDS 9000, which Cisco introduced at the conference Monday, said Bhardwaj.

SAN-OS 2.0 features several improvements to extend SANs
over long-distance networks, including Fibre Channel buffer credits, allowing
storage administrators to extend Fibre Channel traffic over very long
distances; hardware compression, which enables very high data compression
rates over high-speed WAN links; FCIP tape
acceleration, which speeds up the transactions in remote backups; and IPSec
encryption for secure data transfer.

Bhardwaj said Cisco is well positioned versus the competition because it is
a pioneer in the SAN extension space. While the others talk about protocols,
he said Cisco, which acquired the technology to build the MDS 9000 line from
its purchase
of Andiamo Systems in 2002, relies on storage building blocks
to help build products for customers.

The new hardware and software are being tested by Cisco’s storage resellers.
Pricing and availability will be announced in the fourth quarter, although
Susquehanna Financial Group enterprise storage analyst Kaushik Roy said the
switches are expensive and will have little to no near-term impact on
Brocade or McData.

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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