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Brocade Late to SAN Extension Ball

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) -- trailing its two primary rivals on the SAN extension front -- is announcing plans to deliver multiprotocol storage routing support via the platform developed by Rhapsody Networks, the startup it acquired last year.

The company plans to provide Fibre-Channel-to-Fibre-Channel routing, iSCSI-to-FC bridging, and Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) support for the 16-port SilkWorm Fabric AP7420, the so-called intelligent switch designed to host storage management applications in the SAN fabric. Brocade expects to make the option available in the first half of 2004; it hasn't yet set pricing for the multiprotocol option.

"You can configure any of the ports on the Fabric Application Platform to run any of these protocols," says Jay Kidd, VP of product management at Brocade.

However, the routing services at first will work only with Brocade's FC switches. "At initial release, it will be Brocade-to-Brocade, but it is our intent to interconnect to McData and Cisco [switches]," Kidd says.

Brocade is clearly coming late to this fiesta. Its move to support SAN extension technologies by mid-2004 comes as its primary competitors in the FC switch space -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) -- have already introduced products in the category. McData recently acquired Nishan Systems, which had developed a line of IP-based storage switches (see McData Speeds Out IP Switch and McData Sweeps Up Nishan, Sanera).

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