McData last week unveiled two Fibre Channel switches and is enhancing its channel program to make it easier for solution providers to work with the new products.
The Broomfield, Colo.-based vendor refreshed its Sphereon line of Fibre Channel switches with two new models, the company's first to include the 4-Gbps interface, said Steve Scully, director of product management at McData.
Most of the storage networking industry, including switch and host-bus adapter makers, is moving to the 4-Gbps interface.
On the switch side, Brocade Communications Systems has already unveiled its 4-Gbps product, while Cisco Systems is planning to do so some time this year.
The Sphereon 4400 can be configured for eight, 12 or 16 ports for small to midsize SANs, Scully said. The Sphereon 4700 switch is aimed at larger SANs with 16, 24 or 32 ports and long-distance support.
McData's new switches are expected to be in the channel's hands in the third quarter, Scully said. Price has yet to be set, but he said he expects the per-port cost to be about half that of the company's current products.
Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a solution provider based in Boston, said it is exciting to see McData moving to bring out 4-Gbps products.
"Everybody is waiting for it," Winslow said. "McData switches make it very easy to upgrade the number of ports in the field. If they are moving to 4-Gbps technology at half the per-port price, it will push more customers into adopting SANs."
In addition, for solution providers working through McData's own channels, the company last week rolled out its first three-tiered channel program, said Dinese Christopher, director of corporate field and channel marketing.
Partners at the Select level make no sales commitments and gain access to free phone incident support, Web-based training, technology toolkits, and a private partner Web site. At the Premier level, those that commit to $500,000 in annual sales are eligible for co-op funds of 1 percent, along with free presales support and opportunities to work with beta products. Elite partners, which commit to annual sales of $1 million and get at least three people certified, receive 3 percent co-op funds.