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Cisco Joins Sonet SAN Club

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is the latest metro optical networking vendor to make a play for the storage networking market.

Cisco has introduced a four-port SL-Series card for its ONS 15454 platform, with each port able to carry 1- or 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel. The idea is that service providers or enterprise customers can add a blade and upgrade the software in any installed ONS 15454 to handle native Fibre Channel to extend a SAN over an existing Sonet/SDH network.

The move doesnt come as a huge surprise, seeing as just about every metro optical networking vendor is moving -- or has already moved -- into the SAN extension area. Ciena Corp. (Nasdaq: CIEN) just paid $45 million to purchase privately held Akara Corp., which markets SAN extension gear designed for the Sonet/SDH market (see Ciena Plunks Down $45M for Akara). Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) also recently introduced SAN extension features to its Sonet/SDH gear. It’s been known that both Cisco and Nortel were moving in this direction since the beginning of the year (see Nortel Pipes SANs Into Sonet and SANs See Sonet).

Moves by the likes of Ciena, Nortel, and Cisco show that SAN extension may have become a table-stakes feature in metro-networking gear, especially as telecom carriers develop a growing interest in storage services.

Scott Messenger, director of product marketing for Cisco, says carriers and enterprises are interested in adding the capabilities because 2-Gig Fibre Channel connections can provide greater capacity and allow network operators to integrate Fibre Channel into existing infrastructure without building an overlay network.

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