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Another Look at Cisco

Not long ago, the storage world questioned whether Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) was really making it in Fibre Channel SAN switches (see The Cisco Guessing Game). Now, Cisco appears to be turning that question on its ear.

There are still two schools of opinion about the networking giant's ultimate mark on storage, but few debate Cisco's ability to influence the market particularly if that market doesn't really know where it's going anyway.

As close as we can reckon, Cisco's true position in SANs is that of the glass half empty or half full: It depends on your perspective. Cisco’s rivals and detractors say the networking giant remains a dwarf in storage, barely making a dent on market share – especially when compared to Cisco’s standing in its other technology areas (see McData Boss Yawns at Cisco , Cisco Call Puts SANs in Storage, and The Cisco Guessing Game).

But Cisco's growing list of supporters say the glass is half full, that it has come a long way in a short time to grab 12 percent of the overall SAN switch market that had been dominated by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA).

Though Cisco storage remains a long way from reaching its goal of becoming a $1 billion business, it seems to be headed in the right direction. Dell'Oro Group, a market research firm, placed Cisco’s first-quarter 2004 revenues at $36.7 million – up 18 percent from the previous quarter (see Report: Cisco SANs Grew 18%).

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