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Cisco Flaunts Fancy SAN Features

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has upgraded the operating system for its MDS 9000 series of Fibre Channel switches, but customers will have to pay extra for many of the enhanced features.

The software features are available through the Cisco MDS 9000 SAN-OS 1.3, the latest version of the platforms operating system. New in this version are support for Ficon, a mainframe storage networking protocol; routing among multiple Virtual SANs (VSANs); the ability to set quality of service (QOS) prioritization on SAN traffic; and enhanced Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) capabilities.

However, none of these particular features will be available in the "baseline" offering. Following common industry practice, Cisco -- or, more precisely, its reseller partners -- will charge users extra for the Ficon, VSAN routing, FCIP, and QOS features.

Rajeev Bhardwaj, product manager for the Cisco MDS 9000, explains that not every customer needs high-end features like support for Ficon protocols, which is why they're sold separately.

And to be fair, Cisco's primary competitors in this market, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA), similarly for charge extra for additional software features such as security.

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