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Did Brocade Bungle Cisco Test?

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) has been privately circulating test results it claims shows Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) MDS 9509 Fibre Channel director switch drops a small, but significant, number of frames -- which can be devastating to overall system performance.

The allegations are a potential bombshell, coming just as Cisco starts shipping its first FC switch into the market through its major reseller partners, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) (see HP Moves Hard on Cisco and Cisco Gets Set).

Is it possible Brocade found an Achilles' heel in the Cisco switch that everyone else seems to have missed?

In short, it doesn't look like it. First, each of Cisco's partners have spent months testing the switch -- and all of them have certified it for use with their storage. Miercom, the firm that has performed paid performance tests for both Brocade and Cisco switches, says it did not encounter the problem Brocade describes, although Brocade points out Miercom did not run a frame-loss test.

And after reviewing Brocade's test results -- which have not been validated by a third party -- Cisco discovered that frame-loss errors are reported if the Spirent Communications Smartbits testing equipment Brocade was using isn't properly configured with a synchronization cable.

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