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HP Flips on Interop Switch

Will support Brocade and McData gear in the same FC SAN. EMC, for one, is unimpressed UPDATED 9:30AM

Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) this week is announcing that it will formally support mixed-vendor Fibre Channel fabrics.

Initially, HP will support interoperability between Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) equipment. The company expects to add Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) into the mix by January. HP resells Fibre Channel switches from all three.

"What we're promoting is standards-based interoperability. We will not support reverse-engineered interoperability," says Edgardo Lopez, product marketing manager for SAN integration at HP.

But for that reason, any proprietary features -- such as Brocade's Secure OS or Cisco's Virtual SANs -- will not work between different vendors' switches in HP's certified configurations. Switches must be set into "interop mode," communicating with each other via FC-SW-2, the industry standard for Fibre Channel.

"Interoperability continues to be more of a journey than a destination," says Lopez.

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