MaXXan Midrange Switch Confirmed

With the MXV250, MaXXan takes the plunge into a growth market - and tempts competitors

April 22, 2005

3 Min Read
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MaXXan Systems Inc. is poised to release a smaller version of its high-end Fibre Channel switch.

News of the product was first reported in Byte and Switch in early March (see MaXXan Plans Midrange Muster). Details are now confirmed by MaXXan's VP of marketing, Ravi Chalaka.

Dubbed the MXV250, the switch features 16 to 64 ports, considerably smaller than MaXXan's MXV500, a 256-port director-class switch. Other than size, though, Chalaka says the features largely duplicate those of MaXXan's higher-end gear, including virtual tape, volume pooling, LUN aggregation, and a range of data management options, via IPStor software OEM'd from FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC).

Chalaka thinks users will want to populate the switch's four ports with three cards for a 48-port maximum, leaving one port free for the embedded server and applications. He says further software functionality, including apps from vendors besides FalconStor, will be added in upcoming releases.

The MXV250 is in beta test now and is scheduled to ship June 15. Pricing for a typical base configuration of 32 ports with virtualization and embedded server blade will be about $59,000, roughly 25 percent lower than a basic MXV500 setup.With this new product, MaXXan is looking to tempt smaller enterprise customers, those with perhaps 20 to 30 servers attached to a SAN. MaXXan's value proposition for these customers is the same as before: namely, to improve efficiency by putting virtualization and other functions inside the switch instead of into an appliance. But the company also hopes smaller customers will be more eager than bigger ones to bet on a smaller vendor.

While MaXXan has had a limited but seemingly solid success rate with its bigger gear, the new switch will attract fierce competition from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), which also offers intelligent switches in this port range and is looking to expand into smaller customer sites.

The MXV250 will also compete to some extent with Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), since, like MaXXan's higher-end gear, it supports front-end iSCSI and IP NAS clients. Even though there is no direct iSCSI network connectivity in the switch, it links NAS to FC SANs. MaXXan's pitch is to furnish some of the applications NAS vendors offer, such as replication and snapshotting, while adding switch capabilities those vendors don't provide.

It's too soon to tell how MaXXan's new switch will stack up against other intelligent switches, but at least one analyst, who asked not to be named, thinks this is an important product move for MaXXan. The key will be whether MaXXan can live up to claims of offering more functionality in its switch than Cisco, something the analyst says it's vowed to do.

The MXV250 is one of several plans MaXXan has to improve its competitive profile. The company, which got $29 million in funding a few months back (see MaXXan Intros Intelligent SAN Switch ), is also rumored to be working on an out-of-band product that competes with the nascent storage router from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) -- ostensibly to help boost MaXXan's presence with larger customers. While not denying the talk, Chalaka won't elaborate. "We have not announced that," he says.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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