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Sandial Clocks In

High-end Fibre Channel switch startup Sandial Systems Inc. is aiming to change the status quo in the industry -- by snatching control of the sale of SAN infrastructure devices away from the major storage systems vendors.

But while it's a customary ritual among excited startups to declare the ancien rgime irrelevant, bucking this particular industry trend won't be easy.

Today, nearly all SAN switches are sold to end users by EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and other storage vendors -- not by the companies that actually make the devices, like Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) or McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA).

Even networking behemoth Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has had to curtsy just a bit when confronted with the powerful hold the storage vendors have on this market. Cisco this week proudly announced that it has inked reseller deals with EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), HP, and IBM (see Cisco Puffs Up Reseller Deals).

Nevertheless, Sandial, which says it will ship its first switches by the end of June 2003, says it's committed to going it alone -- at least, for now. Down the road, Sandial says it will seek original equipment manufacturer (OEM) deals as a third tier in its go-to-market strategy after direct sales and systems integrators.

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