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Sprint Puts Cisco to Test

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) is about halfway through its rigorous testing cycle of Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) MDS 9000 Fibre Channel switches -- and so far, its lab engineers have found the Andiamo box holds its own.

"We've found nothing that sets the world on fire, but there's nothing that disqualifies it, either," says Charles Warren, director of Sprint's Service Technologies Lab, the communications company's testing organization for both internal and customer-facing IT technologies.

Sprint is evaluating the Cisco MDS 9000 switches for possible deployment in its own internal IT infrastructure, and it's also considering deploying them as the foundation for a managed storage services offering to its enterprise customers. The carrier is entering Phase 4 of its testing, which will continue for another six to eight weeks.

When Sprint began testing the MDS 9000 switches in December 2002, its SAN engineers weren't convinced that Cisco could match the reliability of other offerings in the market. Since then, though, they've warmed up to Cisco, Warren says.

"Our SAN folks initially viewed Cisco with some skepticism -- the attitude was, 'Cisco is a great networking company, but they don't do storage area networks,' " he says. "Now I'm seeing some softening of the hard position that we had when we went in."

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