Cisco Picks Up The Pace


Acquires storage start-up Andiamo, unveils Fibre Channel switches


Cisco Systems last week unveiled its long-expected move into the high-end Fibre Channel switching market with a new set of fabric-class and director-class switches and the acquisition of a privately held storage start-up secretly funded by Cisco more than a year ago.

Cisco seeded that start-up, Andiamo Systems, in January 2001 as a developer of IP-based storage products but only publicly announced its existence early this year.

The vendor expects to pay as much as $2.5 billion to acquire the remaining portion of Andiamo it does not yet control. The amount will be based on how sales of Andiamo products fare in the three months prior to the close,which is expected by the third quarter of Cisco's 2004 fiscal year,as well as Cisco's sales and market capitalization at the time.


'With Andiamo's technology, Cisco will be able to offer enterprise customers the same levels of network scalability, performance and manageability to storage networking that Cisco pioneered in LAN and IP networking.' ,CISCO'S MARIO MAZZOLA

Andiamo, which is located on the Cisco campus, and its 270 employees will join the Cisco Storage Technology Group when the acquisition is closed, Cisco executives said.

"With Andiamo's technology, Cisco will be able to offer enterprise customers the same levels of network scalability, performance and manageability to storage networking that Cisco pioneered in LAN and IP networking," said Mario Mazzola, Cisco's chief development officer.

Along with the Andiamo acquisition, Cisco last week also unveiled a series of Fibre Channel switches, signaling its entry into the SAN switching market.

The MDS 9216 is a modular fabric switch, with one fixed slot containing 16 2-Gbps Fibre Channel ports and an expansion slot for an additional module with either 16 or 32 ports. It is expected to be available next quarter for $29,995, said Bill Erdman, director of marketing for technology alliances at the Cisco Storage Technology Group.

The company also unveiled three director-class switches in its MDS 9500 family. They offer up to 1.44- terabit-per-second internal bandwidth, with density of up to 256 ports per switch and up to 768 ports per rack.

Cisco's push into the Fibre Channel market has the potential to take a bite out of Brocade Communications' market share, analysts and other observers said.

Bill Yassinger, director of networking solutions at Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider, said he is not sure what Cisco's move will do to the Fibre Channel market.

"There will be a negative effect on Brocade and McData because they have similar products," Yassinger said. "Cisco has such a tremendous marketing machine. But they will have to do some education of their sales force for this market."

Brad Wenzel, president and CEO of Wenzel Data, a Stillwater, Minn.-based storage solution provider and Cisco partner, said Cisco's entry is exactly what the Fibre Channel market needs.

"It needs someone with that kind of bandwidth to make Fibre Channel a protocol that can compete nicely with other protocols," Wenzel said. "With Cisco coming from its focus on Gigabit Ethernet, this will help Fibre Channel."

While Cisco has been involved for years in core switches, LANs and WANs, it has not been active in Fibre Channel and other storage protocols, Yassinger said. "This will act to bridge the convergence gap between IP and storage," he said.

Photo: Eddie Milla/CRN Archive