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Kindred Healthcare

NEW YORK -- Storage Decisions -- While moving from McData to Cisco switches, Kindred Healthcare proved forklift upgrades don't have to be painful. They might even benefit a business if done with enough planning.

In a presentation here today, Kindred storage manager Tim Hesson said that in mid-2005 he decided to move from a core-to-edge SAN to a more consolidated switching structure. The decision led him to replace 26 McData switches with four Cisco MDS 9509 directors.

Hesson refers to his topology before the upgrade as "Switch City," with a variety of devices and fabrics accumulated over several years as the Lousiville, Kentucky-based firm acquired companies. Kindred consists of hospitals, nursing centers, rehab centers, and pharmacies.

"We had strictly McData -- core directors, switches, pseudo directors, and fabrics all over from acquisition after acquisition," Hesson says. "We built this fabric over here, this fabric over there."

For Hesson's group, the problem was more the messy topology than McData switches. But Cisco had a couple of advantages that prompted him to switch vendors:

  • Kindred is a Cisco Ethernet shop, and Hesson saw moving to its Fibre Channel gear as a way to increase leverage with the vendor;
  • Hesson likes Cisco's bladed architecture, which he says lets him swap out cards to upgrade ports; and
  • Kindred is an EMC SAN shop, and McData's backbone i10K directors were not qualified by EMC until after Hesson was well into migrating to the new fabric. (See Qualified Response.)
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