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Cisco & IBM Jam on SANs

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) today announced a joint customer win that represents the largest order to date for the MDS 9000 switches.

AXA Group, a Paris-based worldwide financial services company, has bought a number of MDS 9000 switches, amounting to around 2,000 Fibre Channel ports, which it plans to roll out this year. The company expects to deploy a total of 8,000 ports over the next six years (see AXA Asks for Cisco SAN Switches).

And in another advance on the IBM/Cisco storage networking partnership, Big Blue today announced it will offer Cisco's IP and CWDM (coarse wavelength-division multiplexing) modules for the MDS 9000 family of SAN switches, and will also resell the MDS 9506, a director switch that carries a lower initial price point than the 9509.

The companies didn't disclose the value of the SAN portion of the AXA deal, but said it was part of the $1 billion contract for IT products and services that AXA inked with IBM in February. However, assuming that the Cisco gear will be priced at least at $1,500 per port (a conservative estimate, even factoring in any discounts), the deal would be worth more than $3 million in the first year alone.

Wall Street analysts have said anecdotal evidence suggests Cisco is on track to beat its original goals for the MDS 9000 of doubling sales every quarter for the next few quarters. RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Montague believes Cisco's storage sales could be in the mid-$20 million range for the current quarter. Other observers, however, caution that Cisco may be inclined to manipulate those numbers, since it's obviously eager to show traction in a new market segment (see Cisco SAN Sales: Ramping Hard?).

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