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Cisco Salvo in 4-Gig FC

Cisco finally has a 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel fabric switch of its own.

Cisco today launched the MDS 9124, a 4-gig switch that scales from 8 to 24 ports. Its first 4-gig switch came out around a year ago, but that was through an OEM deal with QLogic. And the vendor has put most of its emphasis on larger directors since entering the Fibre Channel SAN market in 2003.

The MDS 9124 is Cisco's most serious attempt at loosening Brocade's grip on the fabric switch market, and comes as Brocade is looking to close a $713 million acquisition of McData. (See Brocade's Costly Victory and Brocade Bags McData For $713M.) That deal will leave Brocade and Cisco to battle for the storage switch market. Cisco says its storage system partners will begin selling the MDS 9124 in December.

Rajeev Bhardwaj, director of product management for Cisco's data center business unit, says the MDS 9124 is aimed at what Cisco calls commercial customers, as opposed to the enterprise customers that use its directors. Cisco defines commercial customers as organizations with fewer than 1,500 employees, less than 10 Tbytes of storage, and a single data center.

"The Fibre Channel switch market is going through a fundamental change," Bhardwaj says. "Trends are starting to emerge. Security and flexibility to grow in the future are becoming as important to commercial customers as to enterprise customers."

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