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Cisco Takes Spinnaker for a Spin

About nine months ago, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) was considering incorporating NAS technology from Spinnaker Networks Inc. into its MDS 9000 series of Fibre Channel switches -- but it has since backed off this idea, sources tell Byte and Switch.

Word that Cisco had been sizing up Spinnaker comes after a similar rumor about the networking giant's dalliance with Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP). In both cases, Cisco was supposedly looking to provide an optional NAS blade for the Andiamo Systems Inc. chassis-based switches that would provide file services in front of a Fibre Channel SAN (see Cisco to Slot In NetApp?).

However, a Cisco insider says the company has abandoned any plans of incorporating NAS functions into its SAN switches. The NAS head suggestion, which was put forward by Cisco's storage technology requirements team in the field, "was categorically knocked back by the Andiamo team," because it wasn't compatible with Cisco's go-to-market strategy, says this source, who insisted on anonymity.

That may in large part have been because if Cisco did introduce a NAS blade for its FC switch family, such an offering would certainly compete with its storage partners, which currently include Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) (see Cisco Gets Set, HP Refills Its SAN Flask, and IBM Tells Cisco: 'Let's Go!'). HDS, for instance, now resells NetApp's NAS gateway, and HP's e7000 is a NAS head-end designed to sit in front of SAN storage (see HDS OEMs NetApp: Big Deal? and HP Kisses NAS, Nods to iSCSI).

Another source familiar with Spinnaker, though, confirms that Cisco put the startup through its paces about six months ago. "Cisco tested it -- and they loved it," the source says. "It did everything Spinnaker said it would: It was both CIFS [Common Internet File System] and NFS [Network File System], it had nondisruptive scaling, a global namespace, and it was stable."

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