Cisco Upgrades Its Storage Capabilities Over IP Networks

The new products were unveiled Monday at the Storage Networking World conference, being held here this week.

The company introduced the Cisco MDS 9000 IP Storage Services Module, an eight-port card that allows MDS 9000 series directors and switches to support iSCSI and Fiber Channel over IP (FCIP) simultaneously on each Gigabit Ethernet port, said Ed Chapman, senior director of product marketing at the company.

The cards plug into the MDS 9216 and MDS 9509 to allow a SAN to extend across a LAN, WAN or MAN, said Chapman. Applications include remote replication, remote backups, campuswide SAN interconnects and the ability to integrate midrange servers into a SAN, he said.

Also new this week is an FCIP port adapter for Cisco's 7200 and 7400 series routers. This adapter allows the more than 270,000 routers that have been installed worldwide to be used to extend Fibre Channel storage connectivity over a WAN, said Chapman. "It's perfect for the branch office, or for SAN extensions," he said.

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Cisco also unveiled its SN 5428-2 storage router, which is based on the company's 5428 router. The 5428 offered iSCSI capability and an eight-port Fibre Channel switch, but the new version now includes FCIP capability, Chapman said. The company will shortly introduce a trade-up program to allow a 5428-2 router to replace a 5428, he said. "Now customers can get FCIP, iSCSI and Fibre Channel all through the same router," he said.

The company plans to let partners develop value-added storage services via APIs for the new products in the near future, said Chapman.

The FCIP port adapter and the SN 5428-2 router are now available via Cisco's direct and indirect channels. List price for the adapter is $9,995, and the router is priced at $11,995.

The IP Storage Services Module is expected to be available in June via IBM's direct and indirect sales channels, said Chapman. The company has always sold such modules via partners like IBM because customers are more likely to purchase them when buying storage arrays, he said. Cisco has signed letters of intent with Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi Data Systems for the modules, but Chapman did not confirm whether it has done so with Sun Microsystems. "We are negotiating with a wide variety of people," he said.