Lucent & McData Shake SANs

Duo to cross-sell each other's gear to extend FC over IP, stirring up SAN extension sector

May 23, 2003

3 Min Read
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Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) have paired up in a deal to cross-sell each other's gear to enterprises that need to extend their Fibre Channel SANs over IP -- ticking the competitive pressure up another notch in the SAN extension market (see Lucent, McData Extend SANs).

Under the nonexclusive arrangement, Lucent and McData will jointly sell Lucent's OptiStar EdgeSwitch, which provides Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) support, in conjunction with McData's Intrepid directors and Sphereon fabric switches. Executives say talks between the companies started last October, after the two companies certified their equipment to work together (see Lucent Gives OK to McData).

"Their expertise in carrier-class networks augments our expertise in the data center," says Richard Lyford, senior strategic alliance manager at McData. "Our customers have become very comfortable with Fibre Channel in the data center, and now they're looking at deploying this across the entire enterprise."

Analysts say the Lucent/McData partnership should be mutually beneficial -- even though both are coming late to the party in addressing this segment in an organized way.

One year ago, Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) announced a similar deal with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), and ADVA AG Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) has had a longstanding relationship with Inrange Technologies (now part of CNT [Nasdaq: CMNT]) (see Nortel Cozies Up to Brocade and CNT Walks Off With Inrange).Sterling Perrin, senior research analyst for optical networks at IDC, notes that Lucent has not been a big player in SAN extension to date, which has been dominated by Nortel and ADVA on the WDM side, and CNT on the IP side (see our report, Storage Over Optical).

"Lucent is trailing, but they're a really big player in optical and I certainly wouldn't count them out," he says. "Lucent is in a very good position to help on the wide-area network side, because of their size and legacy."

Jack Hunt, director of marketing in Nortel's optical storage connectivity division, says he's not surprised to see Lucent try to take a bigger stake in the storage over optical space. "I think they've woken up to the oportunity now," he says, adding, "We've been at this for three and a half years."

But he says he finds it odd that Lucent is initially focusing its partnership with McData around IP rather than Sonet: "That's surprising to me given where they come from."

FCIP is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specification that encapsulates Fibre Channel into IP packets to connect "SAN islands." Lucent developed FCIP support for its OptiStar EdgeSwitch in conjunction with Vixel Corp. (Nasdaq: VIXL). In addition to IP, the switch can connect to Sonet/SDH and DWDM networks.Other vendors selling FCIP gear include Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Nishan Systems Inc., and SANcastle Technologies Inc. (see Cisco Implants IP in SANs and SANcastle Retreats to FC Kingdom).

Jeff Shafer, product manager for the OptiStar EdgeSwitch, says Lucent is also getting ready to release a feature it's calling Domain Virtualization. Slated to be generally available at the end of June, Domain Virtualization will allow enterprises to maintain separate autonomous regions for SANs and selectively share devices across a WAN link. Lucent has not yet set pricing for the feature, which will be available as a microcode update.

"We've been working with McData in design reviews to meet some of the requirements of how you connect storage fabrics between data centers," Shafer says.

Lucent and McData also plan to collaborate in other areas, including storage extension over DWDM using Lucent's Metropolis Enhanced Optical Networking (EON) platform.

Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and SwitchFor more on this topic, tune in to Byte and Switch's upcoming Webinar: "Storage Over Optical: Extending the SAN," on May 27th. For more information and to register, click here

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