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IBM Tells Cisco: 'Let's Go!'

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has become the first major storage vendor to announce its intentions to resell Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) Fibre Channel switches, a milestone that portends a strong entrance into this market for Cisco.

Although not totally unexpected, the deal should strike new fear into the hearts of the incumbent Fibre Channel switch players, for whom IBM has been a critical partner in the distribution of their products.

Under the terms of the deal, announced this morning, IBM and IBM's business partners will offer Cisco's MDS 9000 family of switches to their customers, starting with the Cisco MDS 9509 director and the MDS 9216 fabric switch and associated modules. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed (see IBM to Resell Cisco Switches).

However, IBM isn't quite yet ready to roll on the Cisco boxes. The company says it expects to finish interoperability testing and qualification of the MDS switches and announce their availability by the end of the first quarter.

So why did IBM decide to announce this partnership now, instead of waiting until the products actually are available? "It's been in our labs for the past several months, and now is the time to let everyone know about this new relationship between IBM and Cisco," says Tarek Makansi, director of storage products for IBM. (Translation: We wanted to get our press release out before EMC Corp. [NYSE: EMC] did.)

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